Yes, all kinds of strange things can happen when you travel, but this was a first. Returning from a trip, I had a couple $10 bills but no singles. Well, a quick trip to the bank will fix that. Or so I thought…
The conversation went something like this:
ME: I would like to change these $10 bills into singles.
BANK: (examining the bills) Sorry, this one is counterfeit.
ME: You gotta be kidding. Where would I get a counterfeit bill?
BANK: I was hoping you could tell me.
ME: (thinking back to my last travels) It could have been any of a half dozen places. I really don’t know.
BANK: Sorry about that, but we will be keeping this bill. You will get a receipt.
ME: But that’s my money. Give it back.
BANK: No, it now belongs to the Secret Service. We send all counterfeit bills to them.
ME: Okay, keep it. Just give me a good one.
BANK: Sorry, no can do. This is your loss, not ours.
Turns out this is true. The $10 bill looked perfect to me until I was showed what a non-counterfeit note looked like next to it. I was extremely surprised by the small denomination. After all, it must take just as long to make a fake $10 bill as it does for a $50 or $100. But the bank said that counterfeiting happens for all bills, even singles.
I tried to think back to where it might have come from. Was it that quick run into the drugstore? Maybe it was that oh-so-necessary stop at Starbucks. Or was it from one of the taxi drivers? Arrr, I just wasn’t sure.
So how can you protect yourself when traveling, short of taking a course in recognizing counterfeit currency? One protection is only use credit/debit cards instead of cash. Unfortunately that is not always possible. Modestly expensive lesson learned, now I find myself examining all bills I receive before placing them in my wallet. No, I am not an expert but if I find Mickey Mouse’s face on a fiver, it’s a good bet the bank will take that bill from me, too.
Well, at least I can be happy no one put illegal drugs in my bags. Got a feeling that would have cost me a lot more than ten dollars.