How to Spot Counterfeit Money Like a Secret Service Agent

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Illustration: Elena Scotti (Shutterstock)

While currency isn’t arsenic commonly utilized arsenic it utilized to be, counterfeit bills are inactive a problem. According to the Treasury Department, an estimated $70 cardinal successful counterfeit bills are successful circulation, oregon astir 1 counterfeit enactment for each 10,000 successful genuine currency—although it could beryllium overmuch much than that. That’s wherefore it can’t wounded to cognize however to spot a fake bill, particularly if you enactment successful the work industry. Here’s are immoderate ways you tin place counterfeit bills:

  • The consciousness of the paper: The easiest mode to place fake bills is by feeling the paper, which is grainy and crisp. Fake bills are often printed connected regular insubstantial made from histrion cellulose, but existent bills are made retired of rag paper—a operation of linen and fabric fibers. Most radical tin intuitively consciousness the difference, particularly erstwhile comparing a fake measure with a existent one.
  • Raised ink: The effect is subtle, but with existent bills you tin resistance a fingernail crossed the aboveground and consciousness a spot of bony oregon vibration from the raised ink, particularly wherever there’s a batch of etching. Most counterfeiters conflict to replicate this effect.
  • Color-shifting ink: On newer bills, the numbers connected the little close country alteration colour from copper to greenish connected denominations of $10 and higher. Just tilt the measure backmost and distant and you should spot it. Sometimes counterfeiters volition usage glitter truthful that the fig alternates from a shiny to matte decorativeness erstwhile you tilt it, but you tin inactive archer it’s fake if the colour doesn’t change.
  • Watermark: When held up to a light, newer, legit bills volition person a watermark of a numeral matching the bill, oregon alternatively, a ghostly representation of the president depicted connected the bill. The watermark tin beryllium seen from some sides of the bill.
  • Security Thread: Newer bills should person an embedded portion moving vertically connected the banknote, either to the near oregon close of the representation (it depends connected the denomination). The denomination of the measure volition besides beryllium inscribed connected the thread.
  • Blurry printing: A motion of counterfeit bills is blurry lines oregon text, arsenic existent bills usage die-cut printing that’s highly precise and hard to replicate. Blurry printing is champion spotted by looking intimately to spot if the precise tiny substance that’s printed connected the measure is wide and legible.
  • Red and Blue Threads: It’s precise subtle, but existent bills person tiny, hair-like threads woven into the measure that look bluish oregon pinkish (personally, I deliberation the bluish threads are easier to spot). The lines are precise bladed which makes it much hard for counterfeit printers to replicate.
  • Ultraviolet Glow: I haven’t confirmed this myself, but seemingly if a legit measure is held up to an ultraviolet light, the $5 measure volition glow blue, the $10 measure volition glow orange, the $20 measure volition glow green, the $50 measure volition glow yellow, and the $100 measure volition glow red. If you person a UV light, effort it retired and stock what you find.
  • Serial number: The archetypal missive of the serial fig should correspond to the twelvemonth that the measure was designed, known arsenic the “series” number, which is besides printed connected the bill. (For reference: E = 2004, G = 2004A, I = 2006, J = 2009, L = 2009A, M = 2013, N = 2017)

For much connected spotting counterfeit bills, check retired this ocular guide produced by the U.S. Currency Education Program.