David Lerner Associates: How to Spot Counterfeit Bills
Counterfeiting is becoming a growing problem in the U.S. as advances in printing and computer technology have made it easier for thieves to produce fake money that, on a quick glance, looks very real. As a result, the federal government has undertaken efforts to help educate citizens about how they can tell the difference between real and counterfeit bills.
Also, a new $100 bill will be put into circulation this October that has a more high-tech look and feel and incorporates new security features designed to make it harder for crooks to print counterfeit bills. These include color-shifting ink that will be very hard to duplicate — when the bill is tilted, for example, the Liberty Bell will shift color to copper from green.
Many businesses train their employees in what to look for in order to spot counterfeit bills. One of the most obvious signs of a counterfeit bill, many say, is its texture and “feel.” Legitimate bills have a raised texture, but counterfeits usually feel more flat because counterfeiters still haven’t been able to duplicate this with digital and offset printing presses.
In addition, here are six more things many businesses and their employees look for when accepting cash from customers that you can also use to help spot counterfeits:
1. Paper stock— The quality and type of paper used in printing currency is probably the hardest thing for counterfeiters to reproduce. Minute red and blue fibers are embedded in the paper of real currency. While counterfeiters can print ink marks on their paper that look like fibers — or even try to embed dyed hair into fake bills — this can usually be spotted upon close inspection.
2. Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals— These are clear and sharp on real bills, but often fuzzy and uneven on counterfeit bills. Also, the colors of the Treasury Seal and serial number should match — this is a mistake counterfeiters sometimes make.
3. Serial numbers— Look carefully at the serial numbers to see if they are uniformly aligned and spaced. Also, counterfeiters often do not go to the trouble of changing serial numbers, since they are usually printing thousands of bills at a time. So if a bill looks suspicious, check to see if it has the same serial number as another bill in your possession.
4. Portraits— Does the coloring of the portrait of the person who is represented on the bill stand out from the bill’s background? Or does it blend in with the rest of the bill, or does it look flat and lifeless? Though computer and printing technology have advanced greatly, most thieves still cannot duplicate the printing methods used by the federal government when printing the portraits.
5. Borders and Edges— On real currency, the outside borders and edges of the bill are clear and unbroken, but they’re often blurry or fuzzy on counterfeit bills. Also, the border ink sometimes bleeds off the edge of the bill on counterfeits, but this never happens on legitimate bills.
6. The Watermark— Recreating the watermark — the shadow of the President’s portrait that you see when you hold a bill up to the light — is another difficult thing for counterfeiters to do, so they often don’t try. If a bill is missing the watermark, this is one of the surest signs that it’s a fake.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. Member FINRA & SIPC.
Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates 1 877 367 5960 http://www.davidlerner.com