The Wells Fargo Bank in Payson has joined its 240 sister branches in Arizona by installing new counterfeit- and fraud-detection devices making Wells Fargo the only major financial services company in the state to employ ultraviolet technology for fraud detection.
"The equipment arrived about two months ago, and it's really cool," said Heather Rockow, the bank's manager. "You put the cash underneath the machine, and the ultraviolet light makes the security strips within the bill glow differently. Also, certain checks have watermarks that can't be seen with the naked eye but they glow when you put them under the detector."
The technology, along with the security features now built into new bills, has helped cut down on counterfeiting, Rockow said.
Desktop production of fake items such as checks, identification and currency is one of the leading types of fraud today, according to a recent survey by the American Bankers Association.
Counterfeit and fraud losses at U.S. businesses total an estimated $18 billion a year and the United States Secret Service says the problem is on the rise.
The new Wells Fargo equipment which scans for the authenticity of such items as IDs, checks and currency improves Wells Fargo's ability to neutralize high-tech tools employed by counterfeiters.
Wells Fargo tested the counterfeit- and fraud-detection devices extensively at banking stores in nine states last fall and is deploying them throughout its 23 Community Banking states, a spokesperson said.
Rockow is as devoted to that high-tech commitment as any Wells Fargo executive. Still, she admitted, the seven counterfeit bills which have been discovered at her branch over the past year were unmasked in the old-fashioned way: by the visual and tactile abilities of her tellers.
"All of them are trained to see and feel whether or not a bill is the real thing." Rockow said. "To tell you the truth, I trust that as much as I trust the counterfeit detectors."