How To Spot Counterfeit Money

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Counterfeit money is imitation currency produced without the legal sanction of the state government. There are multiple ways to check and make sure the money you are taking is not counterfeit money.

  1. PENS: We have pens located on each register that mark fake bills black if it is a real bill it will be a yellowish color. The problem with this is newspaper will not turn black when marked with one of these pens. People will use newspaper to make counterfeit money and the pen will not detect that it is fake.

  2. WATERMARK: In many of the new bills, the watermark is a replica of the face on the bill. In some, it is only an oval spot. Hold the bill up to a light and look for the watermark on the bill.

  1. The watermark should only be visible when you hold it up to a light.

  2. The watermark should be on the right side of the bill.

  3. If it is a face, the watermark face should exactly match the face on the bill.

  1. COLOR SHIFTING INK: Make sure the denomination at the bottom right-hand corner correctly color shifts. Optically variable ink or color shifting ink is used as an anti-counterfeiting measure. The ink displays two distinct colors depending on the angle the bill is viewed at. Take a $20 bill, for example, the 20 located on the bottom right-hand corner will have a copper color when you are looking straight at it. If you rotate the top of the bill down so that the bill looks flatter to the eye, it will turn to more of a greenish color.

  2. RAISED PRINTING:  Real bills will all have raised printing. To detect raised printing, take your fingernail and run it carefully down the collar/jacket. You should feel an unsmooth texture.

  3. SECURITY THREAD: The security thread is one of the most distinctive security indicators of an authentic bill. If you hold any bill up to the light, you will see a security strip vertical on the bill. It will have USA and the bill’s denomination. The ultimate test is to put the bill under a UV or black light to make sure the bill glows the correct color.


$5 – Right side. Glows blue under UV light.

$10 – Right side. Glows orange under UV light.

$20 – Far left hand side. Glows green under UV light.

$50 – Right around the middle. Glows yellow under UV light.

$100 – Left side. Glows pink under UV light.

  1. SECURITY RIBBON (ONLY ON NEW $100 BILLS): The newly printed $100 has an extra security feature. There is a visible blue security ribbon down the middle of the bill that is 3D. If you move it back and forth, you will actually see the number 100 and a variety of little bells will move from side to side as the bill shifts.

  2. SERIAL NUMBERS SHOULD CORRESPOND TO  PRINTING YEAR/SERIES: The last thing to check if you are unsure, make sure the serial number matches the supposed series/run year printed on the bill. Each letter that starts a serial number for a bill corresponds to a specific year.

E – 2004

G – 2004A

I – 2006

J – 2009

L – 2009A

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