Counterfeit money is a big problem in several countries, even when current generation currency notes have multiple security features. The US dollar faces the biggest threat, as it is accepted in most parts of the world.
As per estimates, around $70 million counterfeit US dollars are in circulation. Real numbers could be even higher, as the estimates are based on the amount of fake currency identified and seized by authorities. To keep your money safe, here’s a look at how to spot fake dollar bills.
Raised printing – A genuine US dollar note will have raised printing. You can feel it when you move your fingers over the surface of the note. Raised printing is possible only with advanced printers. It cannot be done with the standard printers used in homes and offices.
Cloth, not paper – Technically, US dollar notes are made from cloth and not paper. Of course, it feels like paper and you can tear it easily. But US currency notes are made from cotton and linen in the ratio of 3:1.
Security fibers – US dollar notes contain red and blue security fibers. These can be seen when exposed to UV light.
Watermark – You can see the watermark of numeral of respective currency when you hold the note against a light source. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the note. This feature is present from 5 dollar note and above.
Security thread – The security thread has the letters USA and the respective numeral of the note. It can be seen from both sides of the note. When exposed to UV light, the security thread glows blue. This feature is available from 5 dollar note and above denominations.
Secretary Hamilton watermark – This feature is specific to 10-dollar note. The watermark contains a faint image of Secretary Hamilton, visible from both sides of the note.
Color shifting ink – This feature is available from 10-dollar note and above denominations. At the lower right corner, the numeral 10 will change color from copper to green when tilted.
President Jackson watermark – This is specific to 20-dollar note. The watermark has a faint image of President Jackson, visible from both sides of the note.
President Grant watermark – This is specific to 50-dollar bill. The watermark shows a faint image of President Grant, visible from both sides of the note.
3D security ribbon – This feature is specific to 100-dollar note. In the blue ribbon, 100 numeral and bell image interchange when the note is tilted back and forth. The security ribbon is woven into the note and not printed on it.
Bell in the inkwell – This feature is there in 100-dollar note. The bell changes color from copper to green when tilted, in effect creating the illusion of disappearing and reappearing.
Benjamin Franklin watermark – This is specific to 100-dollar note. The watermark shows a faint image of Benjamin Franklin, visible from both sides of the note.
There are various other security features embedded into US dollar notes. It includes Federal Reserve System Seal, serial numbers, microprinting, treasury seal and series year.