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How to Detect Counterfeit Money

8 Eye-opening Ways on How to Detect Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit money has harsh penalties. So if you think you've received a counterfeit note or coin, or even if you haven't, read this article to verify the real ones from the fake ones.
WealthHow Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
You may accidentally receive counterfeit from a person you know or on one of your shopping trips from an unknowing or inexperienced cashier. What's important is that you realize that the currency you have is counterfeit and immediately take it to a concerned authority for verification. Remember, possessing counterfeit money is a crime, so report any incidence immediately. This article will tell you how to detect counterfeit money yourself and with the help of some devices specially designed for this purpose.

Detecting Counterfeit Money Yourself

In case you are suspicious about the authenticity of the money that comes into your hands, do not panic. Just carry out the following simple tests yourself, first. If you are convinced that the currency is fake, then take it to the authorities. The United States Secret Service has prescribed these steps to verify the authenticity of the currency.
  • Paper Quality: If your notes have easily distinguishable red and blue fibers engrafted in them, then you need not worry. The note is genuine. Counterfeit money makers try to imitate this by printing similar red and blue lines on the notes, which can be made out easily.
  • Feel: Trust your instincts. If, when you 'feel' the notes, they do not feel like regular notes, then there's a good chance that they are fake. You can never be too safe, so take it for verification immediately.
  • Borders of Notes: On counterfeit notes, the borders of the print on the notes look hazy and unclear. Genuine notes have definite and clear borders.
  • Portraits on Notes: It's a very small distinction, but it holds true. If the portraits on the currency note look alive and natural, it is a real note. Counterfeit money has a dull and dispirited look. Also, the sharpness of the portrait is more defined in a real note.
  • Style of Serial Numbers: Serial numbers are an inherent part of any currency note. In a genuine note, the serial numbers have a distinguishable style. Each digit is placed at an equal distance from the other. The ink used on the seal and the serial numbers are the same in a real note, while on a counterfeit bill, the ink may vary and the digits may be unevenly placed.
  • Color Shift Ink: On currency notes higher than USD 5 denominations, there is a special way to detect the fakes from the real ones. On the bottom right corner, the value of the note is printed. If it's a genuine note, then when you look at that number from a slant, you'll notice that it appears to change colors. This change is from the copper (straight view) to a green (slant view).
  • Watermark: A watermark is one of the best ways to identify counterfeit money. Just hold up a suspect note towards the light. For the notes with denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100, the watermark is the portrait on the note, while on the 5 dollar bill, the watermark is a large 5.
  • Thread: On holding up a genuine bill to the light, the security thread is clearly visible. On a counterfeit note, it is not.
Devices that Help

In addition to the above-mentioned ways, there are devices and machines that help to sift the fake currency from the real one. Two of them have been explained below.
  1. Counterfeit Money Detector Pen: This is an ingenious invention. It has a special ink that has an iodine base. Here's how to use it. If you think you have a fake note, just use this pen to write something on it. If it's a real note, it will just absorb the ink. If it's a fake, the pen will leave marks all over it.
  2. UV Counterfeit Money Detector: The United States currency notes are made with a special paper, which, by law, cannot be used by any other manufacturer for any purpose. This paper is designed to absorb an amount of ultra violet radiation. As stated above, since the paper is not made anywhere else, a fake note cannot absorb the UV rays. Hence, using a UV detector to identify counterfeit money is a good option.
These were some of the ways by which you can identify counterfeit money. So, the next time you're suspicious about a note, follow these steps, and if the note fails even a single of the tests given above, hand it over to the authorities immediately.