How To Spot Counterfeit Money
If you are a business owner, you no doubt have a keen interest in learning how to spot counterfeit money. How can you tell which bills are bogus and which ones are real? There are a number of "tells" that will allow you to spot the fakes. In recent years, the U.S. government has introduced a number of techniques to help make printing fake money more difficult. The key to spotting counterfeit money is knowing exactly what you are looking for. Some fake bills have very subtle differences from genuine money. Read on to learn how to spot counterfeit money.
- Have real money on hand for comparison. In order to spot counterfeit money, you will want to have authentic bills on hand (in several denominations) so you can compare the suspect bank notes and the real bills side-by-side. Once you become familiar with the basic characteristics of an authentic bill, you will be able to detect bogus money more quickly and easily.
- Check the print. According to the United States Secret Service, "crispness" in printing on bills is important. From the portraits on the bills to the borders, all U.S. currency should feature distinct, sharp printing. If you get a bill that is "fuzzy," with a blurry serial number for example, you should immediately suspect a fake. If you still aren't sure, hold it alongside a real bill of the same denomination for comparison.
- Look closely at the paper. Real currency will always have small blue and red fibers embedded in the paper. Counterfeit money may be similar but on close inspection you might notice that the blue and red "fibers" are actually just printed on the paper-not embedded in it.
- Know your watermarks and security threads. Newly printed bills in the United States (with the exception of one and two dollar bills) now feature watermarks and security threads on them. Hold the suspect bill up to the light and look for a watermark embedded in the bill just to the right of the portrait. You should be able to see it on both sides. The security thread will also be visible when you hold a bank note up to the light. Depending on the bill's denomination, the thin strip will be visible either just to the left or right of the portrait.
- Consider investing in a UV light. If you have access to an ultraviolet light, or "black light," you might be able to spot counterfeit money quickly and easily. Under a UV light, the security threads on money will glow a certain color, either blue, green, yellow, red or orange depending on the denomination. The exceptions, again, are the one and two dollar bills, which have no security threads.