Counterfeit Money vs Real Money

Counterfeit Money vs Real Money – How to Spot the Difference?

Although the use of cash is decreasing as the world shifts toward digital transactions, the threat of counterfeit money remains. Even a single fake bill can add up, primarily if you deal with large sums of money regularly. In fact, according to a 2006 Treasury Department report, an estimated $70 million in counterfeit money is in circulation.

Accepting counterfeit notes can result in significant financial losses for small local businesses and big corporations.

In this article, we will look at the various anti-counterfeiting measures you can take, as well as the security features on different US bill denominations and tools to help you identify counterfeit currency.

10 Ways to Spot a Difference Between Counterfeit Money vs Real Money

Look for the Watermark

Examine the Paper’s Quality 

A bill’s feel can be a reliable sign of its legitimacy. Real US dollars are printed on a unique 75% cotton and 25% linen blend, giving the paper a crisp, firm feel. Contrarily, counterfeiters frequently use less expensive paper that might feel thinner, softer, or smoother. If a bill feels odd, it might be worthwhile to look for additional counterfeiting indicators.

Look for the Watermark

The right side of US currency bills has a watermark that can be seen from both the front and the back. When you hold the bill up to the light to reveal the watermark, you should be able to know the person whose image is on it. On a $20 bill, for instance, the watermark should be an image of Andrew Jackson. It is likely counterfeit if the watermark is missing or appears to be of poor quality.

Verify the Security Thread

The security thread, which runs vertically on most US dollars, should be checked. The bill’s denomination is printed on the thread, which glows under UV light. Copycats frequently overlook this information, and the thread might not glow or be placed incorrectly.

On a $50 bill, for example, the security thread should read “USA 50” and be located to the right of the portrait. The bill is likely counterfeit if the security thread is missing or appears to be of poor quality. Try shining a UV light on the security thread if you’re unsure if it’s real; if it doesn’t glow, it’s probably a fake.

Keep an eye out for microprinting

which is tiny lettering that is challenging to reproduce. It is located near the portrait, the denomination, and the serial number on actual US currency. It’s probably a fake if you can’t read the microprinting. On a $100 bill, the microprinting should include the words “USA 100” and “The United States of America” This minor detail is frequently ignored by counterfeiters, making it a great way to determine whether a bill is authentic quickly.

Check the Serial Number

A US dollar bill’s serial number should be printed in the same ink color, size, and font as the Treasury Seal. It’s probably a fake if the serial number is altered or missing. Furthermore, the serial number on the bill’s front and back must match. The bill is definitely counterfeit if the numbers don’t match.

Verify the Portrait

The portrait of genuine US dollars is distinct and sharp. The portrait is probably a fake if it appears blurry or smeared. This is a helpful way to identify a fake because counterfeiters frequently find it challenging to replicate small details, such as the facial features of the people on the bill.

Authenticate the Denomination

The bill should print the denomination in a clear, large font. It’s probably a fake if there are missing or difficult-to-read parts. The denomination should also match the serial number and the number printed on the security thread. The fact that any of these numbers are off firmly hints that the bill is fake.

Check the Borders

The borders on real US dollars are clean and even, with no breaks or missing parts. It’s probably a fake if the borders are crooked or there are breaks. This minor detail is frequently ignored by counterfeiters, making it a great way to determine whether a bill is authentic quickly.

Examine the Colors

The colors on genuine US dollars are bright and vivid, and the hues should not blend together. If the colors appear dull or washed out, or if they bleed into each other, it’s most likely a forgery. Counterfeiters frequently struggle to replicate the intricate color schemes used on US dollars, making this another helpful method for detecting a fake.

Check for Raised Printing

Real US dollars have raised printing, which you can feel by running your finger across the bill’s surface. If the printing is flat or the bill’s surface feels smooth, it’s most likely a forgery. This minor detail is frequently overlooked by counterfeiters, making it a useful tool for quickly determining the authenticity of a bill.

Money Counterfeit Detectors

Money Counterfeit Detectors

Counterfeit money detectors are valuable tools for businesses to avoid accepting counterfeit bills. Many counterfeit detectors serve different purposes, ranging from pens to UV lights to currency counters with built-in counterfeit detection. Select a counterfeit detector that meets your company’s specific needs and rely on more than one testing method for optimal protection.

UV Light Systems – A UV light is set in a base with indicators that show where security threads should be. Placing a bill in front of the light reveals whether the security threads line up and glow the correct color.

Cash Counters/Detectors – These models detect counterfeit bills by combining UV, magnetic, and infrared technology. Security threads, magnetic ink, and bill size can all be tested.

UV Lights – These detectors highlight the security threads, ribbons, and watermarks on money or IDs, making it easy to spot counterfeit bills.

Counterfeit Pens – These devices use iodine-based ink that reacts with the starches found in wood to determine whether a bill is genuine or fake. They are an excellent place to start but remember that they will not work on “bleached” bills.

UV Light/Counterfeit Pens – With a pen on one end and a UV light on the other, this hybrid detector can simultaneously test currency paper, security threads, and watermarks.

Magnifying Glasses – A magnifying glass can assist in identifying printing errors and microprinting on a bill, making it easier to detect counterfeit bills.

What Should You Do if You Think You Have a Fake Bill?

What Should You Do if You Think You Have a Fake Bill?

If you are unsure what to do if you suspect you have received a counterfeit bill, Here are some pointers from the US Treasury and the US Secret Service on handling the situation.

First and foremost, it is critical to remain calm and avoid putting yourself in potentially dangerous situations. If you suspect a bill is fake, do not return it to the person who gave it to you; instead, keep it. If possible, observe and record any descriptions, license plate numbers, or other pertinent information about the person who gave it to you.

Next, contact the local police or the United States Secret Service as soon as possible. They will be able to help you with your investigation and ensure that the counterfeit bill is adequately handled. When taking a suspected counterfeit bill, try to touch it as little as possible and keep it separate from your other cash in marked, protective covers such as an envelope or plastic bag.

It is critical to follow the proper procedures if you suspect you have received a counterfeit bill in your business. Begin by contacting the police and attempting to postpone the customer’s exit from the premises if they are still present. When the authorities arrive, they will collaborate with the US Secret Service to continue the investigation.


Giving your customers a variety of payment options is undoubtedly a noble endeavor. However, given the current state of the economy, you must take the necessary security measures to guard against the growing threat of counterfeit money. Our responsibility as business owners is to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters because the prevalence of fake bills is increasing.

Thanks to the insightful information shared in this guide, you are now armed with the knowledge necessary to distinguish between real and fake currency, enabling you to spot and stop any fraudulent activities before they start. Put these suggestions into action to protect your company from financial losses and offer your clients a safe and simple payment process, further boosting their faith and confidence in your company.

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