While it doesn’t happen very often with non-retail tradespersons, occasionally we find ourselves with a piece of currency that looks a little odd. Did you ever wonder how to identify whether it was actually a counterfeit bill? Here’s the procedures the professionals use to identify if they have been had! Unless you have Superman’s eyes use a magnifying glass or loupe to perform these inspections.
- The portrait – The portraits on counterfeit money generally look a little different than those on a genuine bill. On a real bill, the portrait readily stands out from the background. However, on a counterfeit bill, the portrait’s coloring tends to blend in much with the rest of the bill. In addition, the portrait tends to look “lifeless and flat” on counterfeit bills. These differences can be profound on a poorly counterfeited bill and more subtle on a higher quality counterfeit. The differences occur because of the unique and non-duplicable printing processed used by the Treasury Department in creating genuine currency.
- The Federal Reserve and Treasury seals – A real dollar bill will have Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals that are “clear, distinct and sharp,” according to the Secret Service. The agency points out that the seals on a counterfeit bill “may have uneven, blunt or broken saw- tooth points.” One way to detect a counterfeit is by looking at the coloring. If the color of the Treasury Seal doesn’t match the color of the serial number, the bill is fake.
- The Bill’s border – The outside borders on real paper currency are “clear, sharp and unbroken.” However, the Secret Service notes that the edges on a counterfeit bill can be “blurred and indistinct.” Because of the difference in printing methods and paper between genuine and counterfeit bills, the border ink can oftentimes “bleeds” on a counterfeit.
- The serial numbers – The serial numbers on a real bill must be the same color as the Treasury Seal. The numbers on counterfeit bills “may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.” One sure way, however, to spot counterfeit bills is if several of the bill’s one has received in a single transaction.
- Colored fibers – Real bills have tiny red and blue fiber threads randomly embedded in the paper, and counterfeiters haven’t had much success in duplicating them. Counterfeiters try printing the colored threads onto the paper to look like imbedded ones or used dyed cat and human hairs to duplicate the look of the genuine fibers. However, on close inspection, it is clear that the hairs are on the surface of the fake bill and not embedded into the paper.
- The security thread – Many modern bills have a vertical security thread applied to the note. In the light it is slightly opalescent. When the bill is held up to the light, and, while holding the bill vertically, the security thread will depict the bill’s actual denomination. Check to see if it is there.