8 Ways to tell if a Bill is Fake: How to Detect Counterfeit Money

Finding counterfeit money can be an embarrassing situation. However, with the right education, it can be easy to determine if a bill is fake or not, saving you from an awkward situation. The tips in this article will walk you through how to tell if your cash is real or not. Knowing how to detect counterfeit money can save you time and embarrassment later on down the line. Note that the majority of counterfeit bills are the 20s and 100s, so watch out for those as they’re the most frequently counterfeited denominations in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

1) Check the edges

Check the edges. A high-quality bill will have sharp and unbroken edges, and if you can see lines down the sides of the bill or it has blurry or fuzzy images then it could be a fake. Next, hold it up to the light and tilt it at different angles so that light shines through. If you can see an outline of images on both sides when lit up, then you know that bill is good.

2) Touch the bill

When you want to identify counterfeit money, hold it up to the light and look for any visible watermarks. In most cases, the watermark will be in different places depending on what denomination of the bill you’re holding. If you’re looking at a $100 bill, for example, this watermark should be embedded horizontally near the top of the bill as well as vertically just above Franklin’s hairline.

3) Feel the texture

The texture of counterfeit bills can give it away. If you feel the paper and it feels too slippery, chances are that’s fake. Some counterfeiters go so far as giving it slight bumps, but many don’t go that far. You can also see a watermark on real bills and not on the ones made of cheap copy paper. The security features embedded in the bill serve as an extra identifier for real money, but you’ll have to really scrutinize them because they’re very small and hard to see.

4) Look at the security features

There are many ways that you can tell if a bill is counterfeit. First, check the writing on the front of the bill. The bills will say the United States of America in words and have the numbers 1, 2, 5, and 10. If it doesn’t say those four things on it, or has too much writing, then it’s most likely counterfeit. Look for watermarks that are located in different positions on each bill.

5) Examine the paper quality

One way to find out whether or not a bill is counterfeit is by looking at the paper’s quality. Counterfeit bills often have an obvious difference in quality. In addition, there may be some wear and tear on them. For instance, the font might look uneven or blurred due to the printer being out of ink.

6) Check the watermark

If you look at the surface of the bill and see an outline of George Washington’s profile, that means the note is genuine. If there are multiple watermarks, one will say United States of America while the other one says USA 100. If they don’t match up then it may be counterfeit. Also, be sure to check for glimmers or shading in any part of the bill because this could indicate that it’s fake.

7) See what the bank tells you

At the first sign of counterfeit money, contact your bank. However, in order to avoid handing over cash that could be fake, you need to know how to spot it. The United States Treasury has put together the website with all kinds of information about the security features of the U.S.

8) Ask your bank directly

If you’re wondering whether a bill you received from an ATM, gas station or convenience store is counterfeit, your best bet may be to contact the bank that issued it. We encourage customers who believe they’ve received counterfeit bills to contact their financial institution, according to Brian Bailey of the American Bankers Association (ABA). The bank will review and monitor the matter in accordance with applicable law.

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