Staff members in the Cash Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago help ensure that paper currency is clean and in good condition, that it’s not counterfeit, and that there is as much in circulation as the public demands. When commercial banks have more paper currency in their vaults than they care to keep on hand, they send it via armored truck to Reserve Banks. Using highly sophisticated processing machines, Cash Department workers count the currency and inspect its condition. They then prepare the currency for storage in advance of it being recirculated to other banks, and ultimately the public.
If the currency is old, worn-out or dirty, it is shredded and replaced with new currency from the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Counterfeit bills are also removed from circulation and given to the U.S. Secret Service for investigation. The Cash Department monitors the overall currency needs of commercial banks in the Seventh Federal Reserve District. All these activities are essential to the well-being of the overall economy and help maintain public confidence in the nation’s payment system.