Tell If Money Is Fake: Tips to Spot Counterfeit Bills

By  //  April 23, 2021

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When it comes to money, there are individuals who make counterfeit bills, so they can cheat the system and illegally buy items. Counterfeit money can be defined as a currency that is produced without the legal authorization of the state or the government.

It is done in a deliberate attempt to deceive the recipients of such currency. The production or use of counterfeit money is a form of forgery and fraud. One of the best ways to detect counterfeit bills is by the use of a quality mixed bill money counter with counterfeit functionality.

These money counting machines are equipped with the right technology to detect bills that are not original. As such, when you are counting many bills, it is advisable that you should beware of the possibility of some bills being counterfeit.

Why do people make counterfeit bills?

This is a question people may ask. Money is a medium of exchange and has no intrinsic value. Banknotes are some forms of I.O.U. and this means the Federal Bank “owes” you. Now, with the counterfeit bills, these can also be said to be an IOU that no one will honor because it is not a real note. People are attracted to counterfeit bills because whatever they purchase with the bills is free for them. This is because such a note will not be honored in the long run.

Classic counterfeiting

This is the most common kind of counterfeiting. Here, people mint coins or print bills that resemble the common currency. These are then sold to money launderers at a discount or passed directly to the public. Since the counterfeiters want to maximize profit, the currency is of medium quality.

Economic warfare counterfeiting

This is another form of counterfeiting. Counterfeit foreign bills are printed on a massive scale so as to damage the economy of a country. These kinds of forgeries can be done by a country that uses a professional printer and therefore produces high-quality counterfeit currency. An example of this kind of forgery is “Operation Bernard” where Nazi Germany counterfeited British Pound Notes.

Numismatic counterfeiting 

This is another form of counterfeiting where small quantities of rare bills and coins are printed and sold to collectors. The quality here can be very high. Collectors have been conned in this manner.

Tips to spot counterfeit bills

There are many anti-counterfeiting measures that are taken to help non-experts easily spot counterfeit bills. Raised intaglio printing on notes is one such method. Reeded or milled edges are used in coins to prove that the valuable metal used has not been scraped off. UV counterfeit detector lamps can help spot fake bills. There are many other ways and business tips one can tell that a bill is counterfeit.

Here are such ways to detect counterfeit bills

Color-shifting Ink

The bill denomination on the right-hand corner at the bottom has color-shifting ink. This is a security feature on bills that are $5 or more. When you tilt a bill back and forth, you will notice the numeral shifting from gold to green or green to black.


This is a very common characteristic of authentic notes in many countries. Watermarks can come in many forms. However, when examining a watermark beware of the following things:

■ It should be visible only when the bill is held up to the light.

■ It is on the right side of a bill.

■ Where the watermark is a face, then it should match the face exactly on the bill.

■ In most cases where there is no watermark, then the bill is likely counterfeit.

Blurry printing, Text, or Borders

If you notice that a bill has blurry borders, printing, or text, then it is most likely counterfeit. Authentic bills look extremely detailed because they are made by use of die-cut printing plates. These plates are known to create very fine lines. With counterfeit printers, these fine printing details are not possible.

You will also notice microprinting that is unreadable on authentic bills. Counterfeits may or may not have this microprinting. In any case, with counterfeits, such cannot be read even with the use of a magnifying glass.

Raised Printing

Raised printing is another feature of an authentic banknote. Counterfeiters are not able to reproduce this feature. If you run your fingernail carefully on the bill, you will feel some vibration. The ridges of this raised printing cause this vibration on your nail. If you do not feel the vibration, probably the bill is counterfeit.

Microprinted security thread

This is another common security feature in most banknotes. The thread is a thin strip that is embedded and runs from the bottom to the top of the face of the bill. This may however differ based on the value of the notes or the country. Microprinting on the security thread is simply an added layer of security for the bills. Counterfeiters cannot copy this.

Ultraviolet Glow

This is a technology that is used to tell if a bill is fake. Ultraviolet light is used to sense if the security thread glows under the light. This is mostly a common tool used the world over to detect counterfeit notes.

Red and Blue Threads

Take a close look at a real bill and you will notice very small red and blue woven threads into the fabric. This is a clear indication the bill is real. Beware of printed patterns on counterfeit notes as a way of replicating the woven threads.

Serial Numbers

Serial numbers are another way of securing banknotes. Letters used to start the serial number of bills correspond to specific years when the bill is printed. The year printed on the bill should match the letter starting the serial number. If they do not, the bill is counterfeit.

In conclusion, sometimes it may be difficult for one to remember to use all the above features to detect counterfeit bills. If a counterfeit bill is passed to you, it means you own it and therefore you will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one has to be knowledgeable about counterfeit bills and the consequences of handling such money.

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