How to Detect Counterfeit Money

How to Detect Counterfeit Money

With the technology available nowadays, it is easier than ever for forgers to create counterfeit money. Whether you are a business owner, police officer, or just someone hoping to not get scammed, check out our short guide on how to detect counterfeit money so that you can make sure that what you are holding in your hand is the real deal. 

Look and Feel


This should be the first thing you notice. We have all handled money and it feels a certain way in our hands. It’s not quite like paper; it is a little bit different. Likewise it should be a certain size, and even if old or worn out should still have a recognizable appearance. 



This is first step you should take. Hold the bill up to the light. There should be a reflection or an additional design that only becomes visible once light passes through it. If it’s not there then you have a fake on your hands. 

Shifting Colors


This technique has been used on most currencies for over twenty years and thus should be on every bill you handle. Look in the bottom right corner on the bill. The numeric value, let’s say $20, will appear green when you first look at it. But if you move it around, the color will shift between darker and lighter on the real thing. 

Precision Detail


Look closely at the bill. Official printers use excellent presses with highly defined molds. Every detail should be clear and easy to distinguish. Look at the small letterings and borders in particular, if they appear at all blurry or unclear then that is another sign. 

UV Light


UV lights are super cheap and are an excellent way to detect forgeries. This one is easy. Simply place the bill under the UV light, a colored bar should become quickly apparent. Different denominations have different colors so try to be aware of those as well to really make sure it is real. 

Serial Numbers


Serial numbers should be printed twice on the bill; that is your first clue. Also, each year corresponds to a certain letter (e.g. if serial starts with G, it’s from 2004). If your letter and date do not match up then you have a problem

What To Do in You Detect a Fake


Depending on when you find it out will determine your steps. If you are able to thoroughly examine a bill than chances are the purchase has already occurred. If this is the case, handle the bill as little as possible as there may still be fingerprints on it. Try to remember as much as you can about the person and access security tapes if you can. Then send the bill in an envelope to your local authorities. 

If you have determined something is a fake on the spot, use your judgement. The best thing you can do is attempt to stall the person until authorities arrives, if you cannot decide whether to accept the bill or not. Remember, you are helping a lot of people if you can catch this person and send them to justice.

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