Business Alerts

We always have businesses asking us how they can spot a counterfeit bill.  We work very closely with our local police department and with the Secret Service to educate business owners on the best way to tell the difference in a real bill and a fake one.  While there is no absolutely foolproof way, here are a few pointers to help.

Helpful Pointers

Business Alerts
  • Look at the borders of the bill.  If they appear to be jagged and look like they were cut with scissors, or the bill is smaller or larger than other bills, it may be counterfeit.
  • The number located in the bottom right corner on the face of the bill is made of color-shifting ink and a slight backward and forward shift of the bill changes its appearance.  The number appears green when viewed directly and changes to black on older bills when tilted and gold on newer bills.  This color-shifting ink cannot be copied and is not present on counterfeit bills.
  • If you hold a bill up to the light, a watermark of the portrait is visible in a lighter area of the bill. The watermark does not copy on color copiers or scanners, so the watermark that appears on counterfeit bills is often the watermark of a lower denomination bill or a poorly constructed version of the original.
  • The security thread on a genuine bill runs vertically up one side of the bill and is visible on both the front and back when held up to the light. Upon close inspection of this security thread, you should clearly see “USA” and the denomination of the bill printed in succession on the strip (i.e. “USA 50”). Counterfeit bills may contain a thread; however, the printing on it is not distinctive and/or the thread is visible on one side of the bill when not held to the light.
  • Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury seal, whereas counterfeits may show the seal and the serial numbers in different colors.

Here are some other helpful links for spotting counterfeit bills