When you receive money in large denominations, even from the bank, it is a good idea to inspect the bills to make sure that they are not counterfeit. Whether you are using the money for your business, or you simply want to go shopping, you need to know that you aren’t going to be unwittingly passing along counterfeit money. In most cases, cashiers are going to check the bills themselves, but it is better that you know before trying to spend them before you end up having to explain yourself to store security, and the police. Here are some ways that you can detect counterfeit US money.

By Touch

The first thing you should do is feel the bill. The paper used for money is actually made from cotton and linen fibers, and the feel is a lot different than that of regular paper. The printing process is intaglio, meaning that the numbers are slightly raised. You should be able to feel the ink’s texture on the bill. If you run a fingernail along the bill, you should be able to feel ridges in the printing. The paper should feel thinner than regular paper, and it should feel crisper. Whether the bills were printed 50 years ago or last year, they should feel the same.

By Sight

The next step is to give the bill a close visual examination. Other printers can’t replicate what currency printers can do, so be sure to look for anomalies such as blurring. Look for red and blue fibers embedded in the paper. If they are not there, or they look like they have been printed on the paper, the bill is counterfeit. There should be clear, crisp borders around the bills, and there should be no bleeding in the ink. Be sure to look at the portrait as well. Counterfeit portraits are dull and blurry when compared to real currency. The portrait should stand out and not look like it blends into the background. When using a magnifying glass, you should be able to see “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” printed on each side of the portrait (it looks like a line without a magnifier). Finally, look at the serial numbers. The color should be right, and numbers should be evenly spaced.

By Security Features

There are a number of security features to look for on currency. All bills except $1 bills have security thread (red plastic strips) running from bottom to top. These should be viewed with a UV light, and the will glow in different colors for different bills ($5 blue, $10 orange, $20 green, $50 yellow, $100 pink). The bill should always read “USA”, followed by the currency amount, which is spelled out on $10 and $20 bills, and written on $5, $50, and $100 bills. With a light source, you should be able to read the inscriptions from the front or back. It is a good idea for small business owners to have counterfeit detector machines which have special lights. Another security feature to look for is the watermark, which bears the image of the person in the portrait on the bill. It is embedded into the paper, and should be visible from both sides of the bill. US currency also has color-shifting ink. If you tilt the bills, you can see the color in the ink change (this is not the case with $5 bills as of yet).

If you think that you are in possession of counterfeit money, contact the proper authorities immediately. Either take the money directly to a bank to have it inspected, or take it to the police. Handle the bill or bills as little as possible, and write down any information about the bill, such as the date and location you received it. You will also be required to fill out a report through the Secret Service.

Featured photo credit: TBIT via pixabay.com

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