US 20 dollar bills, with new design and security features (Photo courtesy of AP)
ATLANTA -- Shoppers are expected to spend more than $600 billion this holiday shopping season, and many will use cash. The question, is the money in your wallet real?
Atlanta resident Ebony Stell never questioned her money, until her name ended up on a police report.
Stell says she got $265 in cash after making a return to an Office Depot.
"We just take the change expecting it to be real," said Stell.
Stell has no idea how much of what she received was counterfeit, but she does know she went shopping at Walmart before the machine in the self check out line at Home Depot put a stop to her spending spree.
"The lady came out and she said it's not going through because it's fake money and I thought for sure, I'm about to go to jail," said Stell.
The secret service says the $20 bill is the most commonly counterfeited and it's a crime simply to be in possession of it.
Stell wasn't arrested, but she did call police to file a report and hand over the money. She took several photos before handing the bills to police. You have to admit, they're pretty good.
"Who ever did it was a professional because it was crisp, it was, felt just like this one, there was no difference," described Stell.
She says it wasn't until she held the bills up to the light that the difference became obvious. the counterfeit money didn't have a watermark or security thread. And the ink on the number 20 in the lower right hand corner, didn't change from gold to green when tilted.
Office Depot denies giving Stell counterfeit cash. A manager told 11Alive they checked the register and all of the remaining money in it, checked out.
Many stores will check $50 and $100 bills to make sure they're real, and the Secret Service says you should take the time to check your change, too.
Every denomination has its own tricks for detecting a counterfeit bill. The Secret Service has published a helpful guide to know what to look for.