How to Detect Counterfeit Money


We've all probably been handed a counterfeit bill at some palm in our lives. and. completely unaware. we"! on to spend it. Of course it goes without all saying. counterfeiting is a serious crime: in fact it was at one time considered treason in the US and was punishable by death. But how do you know you have a bill in your possession? Here is a simple guide to help you protect yourself from getting scammed -���or from getting in trouble.

A very brief history of counterfeiting

1800s- A Wealth of Designs

counterfeiting was a breeze during the Civil War as each bank printed its own bills. That amounted to 7000 different varieties of bills floating around, making it nearly impossible to detect fakes. It is estimated that up to half of the currency in circulation back then was counterfeit.

The secret service- in July 1865, the U.S. Secret service was established for the sole purpose of investigating counterfeiting rings and enforcing counterfeiting laws

Present- The fight today: It's true that the secret service has substantially diminished the amount of counterfeit money in circulation today, but it still represents a threat to the U.S. economy. As technology becomes more sophisticated, criminals are finding new ways to reproduce the features that distinguish real currency from fake.

It's an art not a science

It takes experience and keen senses to decipher real money from fake. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

1. Look at your money- before we get into the nitty-gritty it's important to remember to look at your money. if you see anything remotely suspicious then move on to the next step.

2. compare with other bills- if you have a suspicious looking bill compare it with a bill of a similar denomination that you are sure is genuine. The key is to look for differences not similiarities

3. observe the portrait- if the portrait does not sharply stand out against the background, it is likely counterfeit. The lines should be clean and distinct, bringing the figure to life.

4. observe the seals- the seals of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury are the green and the black sawtooth circles found to the left and right of the portrait.

5. examine the border- like the lines of the portrait, the intricate border should be crisp and clean and evenly spread away from the border around the entire note. If the lines look hazy and have inconsistencies, then it is probably counterfeit

6. serial number- the serial number should be evenly spaced and exactly the same color as the treasury seal

7. feel the paper- feeling the bill with your hands may prove just as useful as seeing it with your eyes. If you've felt US currency before, you know that the texture has a distinct feel. Blue and red fibers are also embedded within the paper.

Key security features

1. security strip- different denominations have different security strips embedded within that will glow different colors when viewed beneath a black light

2. watermark- there is a watermark revealing an image of the person whose portrait is on the bill. Since 1996, the watermark is found on the $10 bills and higher. It was integrated in the $5 bill in the 1999 series

3. color shifting ink- on current bills in denominations of $10 and higher, special ink is used which appears to change color when the note is tilted

What you should do if you receive a counterfeit

1. don't return it to the person who gave it to you

2. delay the person who gave it to you

3. write down a detailed description of the person who gave it to you

4. place the note in a protective envelope/ folder/sleeve

5. call the police and surrender the counterfeit note

What you shouldn't do if you receive a counterfeit

1. spend it

2. perform a citizen's arrest

3. call 911

4. scream for help

5. burn it

How to Detect Counterfeit Money

shared by Credit Sesame on Jul 15, 2011 in How To


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Have you ever been handed a fake dollar bill (or a $100)? You could have, without even knowing it. With technology advancing so fast, criminals are finding new ways to counterfeit money, reproducing t...
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