How To Detect Counterfeit Money

Fake Money Can Run You Out of Business; Here's How You Can Avoid This Growing Problem

Bill in cash register drawer

Counterfeiting is one of the oldest crimes in history, yet still on the rise. One of the biggest reasons for this is the availability of relatively affordable, sophisticated scanners and color copiers. Large quantities of counterfeit currency can be produced with this equipment with relative ease. U.S. citizens have a role in maintaining the integrity of their currency.

You can help guard against counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with counterfeiting and using counterfeit detection equipment.

  1. Creating counterfeit money is one of the oldest crimes in history. Counterfeiting was actually once considered by the U.S. government as a treasonous act and was even punishable by death. Today, the U.S. Secret Service is committed to investigating every counterfeiting case. Each counterfeiting case, no matter how large or small, carries the serious consequences of incarceration, fines, or both.
  2. Why is counterfeiting such a big deal? Well, consider the following scenario, which happens all too often: If a business unknowingly receives a phony $20 bill and then tries to deposit it at the bank, it will be scanned, most likely detected as counterfeit, and then seized. Bottom line: That business is now out $20! This can have a devastating effect, especially on new businesses.
  3. What can you do to protect your business from unwanted counterfeit bills? The U.S. government has added several easily recognizable anti-counterfeit measures to frequently-used denominations. The new $10 bill, for example, features most common types of counterfeit detection measures, including ultraviolet (UV) marks and magnetic (MG) ink. There are several affordable counterfeit detectors available on the market that recognize these properties and determine if a bill is valid or not.
  4. UV counterfeit detectors feature a light that makes anti-counterfeiting measures in a bill light up and appear yellowish-green. Machines with MG detectors detect magnetic ink that is in the currency. When a bill is slid over the detector, the machine will let you know if it is authentic or fake. Some detectors even include a built-in light that makes it easier to see printed watermarks.
  5. Some currency detectors count a stack of bills to save you time and money. Most detectors are designed to work only with U.S. currency, however. Although many can count currency from other countries, the counterfeit security features will not work. Be sure to find out what security features your country uses before purchasing a bill counter.

You have a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency.


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Counterfeit detector pens work pretty well, but are limited and cannot detect all the features of a fake bill.

By Morgan Cloward