Eight Ways to Spot Counterfeit Money

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The new U.S. $100 bill is set to debut in October. Along with a sleeker, more high-tech look, the new bill has new security features designed to thwart counterfeiters. For instance, the new $100 has color-shifting ink that would be difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. The Liberty Bell on the note will shift from copper to green when the bill is tilted.

These changes to the bill are part of an ongoing effort to help distinguish real from fake currency. “It is a constantly evolving process of putting more and more features on the bill to allow the common citizen to detect counterfeit,” said Ed Lowery, a special agent with the Secret Service.

Click here to see the eight ways to spot counterfeit money

Most of the counterfeit notes that change hands are computer-generated, which are easily distinguishable from real bills. “The process utilized to manufacture genuine notes is so detailed that there are very few systems out there that can match that level of detail in the printing,” Lowery said. People who hold both a real bill and a counterfeit bill in their hands should be able to notice a difference in texture between the two notes. From there, they can go on to look at other factors that would separate the two bills, such as the watermark or serial number.

Making a counterfeit note has never been easier since technology is so readily available for counterfeiters to print fake money at home. However, these notes are usually of low quality and should be unable to pass muster with an informed merchant. Nevertheless, “most people don’t realize that they have counterfeit [money] until they try to make a deposit at the bank or [with] a merchant,” said Joe DeSantis, an assistant special agent with the Secret Service.

Bars and nightclubs are easy places to exchange counterfeit money since they are not well lit, said Jason Kersten, an expert on counterfeiting and the author of “The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter.” In order to combat this problem, many of these establishments are looking at notes with ultraviolet lights, which can help to detect phony bills.

Stopping counterfeits can often be as easy as knowing what to look for. To find out the features one should look for when trying to detect bad notes, 24/7 Wall St. talked to DeSantis, Lowery and Kersten, in addition to using information from the U.S. Secret Service’s “Know Your Money” campaign.

These are eight ways to spot counterfeit money.