Counterfeiting is a serious national crime that has the potential to harm or destroy a business of any size. Thanks to today's technical advances, computers, copiers, and printers can produce counterfeit money that's hard to distinguish from the real thing. Even with these advances, you can learn how to better protect yourself and your business from the dangers of counterfeit money.
How to Detect Counterfeit Currency
The best way to detect counterfeit money is to know the facts about genuine U.S. currency.
- Check Letter (Quadrant Number)
- District Numbers
- Federal Reserve Seal & Letter
- Portrait & Oval Background
- Type of Note
- Treasury Seal
- Serial Numbers
The small check number letter appears in the upper left and lower right corner. These letters indicate the position of that note printed on a full sheet. The Quadrant Number appears in the upper left corner only and should not be confused with the Face Place Number. If the Check Letters are missing, assume that the bill is counterfeit.
There are 12 Federal Reserve Districts, and each district has a number and a letter symbol. If the district number and the letter symbol in the seal do not correspond presume the bill is a counterfeit.
Become familiar with the following district numbers and letter symbols.
One of the most important identifying features of genuine currency is the paper. It contains tiny red and blue fibers embedded on and between its main mass.
Counterfeiters often attempt to simulate these tiny fibers by imprinting red and blue lines on their bogus bills. On a genuine bill, these fibers can be pulled off and out of the paper. You can try this by using the head of a pin.
The large capital letter which appears inside the Federal Reserve Seal, and as a prefix letter for serial numbers, represents a letter symbol for one of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts.
The seal's letter symbol and serial numbers prefix letter must correspond; if not, assume the bill is a counterfeit.
The portrait of a genuine bill is rendered in sharp and clear lines. The oval background contains sharp vertical and horizontal lines, forming small white squares.
On a counterfeit bill the portrait's lines often appear running together, and the background's crossing lines, forming squares, are often filled in.
Federal Reserve Notes now being printed in the following denominations, representing the main U.S. paper currency:
The $100 bill is now the highest denomination being printed. Silver certificates in $1, $5, and $10 denominations are discontinued.
The Treasury Seal is green on Federal Reserve Notes and red on U.S. Notes. Become especially familiar with the color of the Treasury Seal and Serial Numbers, as they are often printed off-colors on counterfeit bills.
Make a special effort to note the seal's saw teeth points on suspected bills. On counterfeit bills, they appear uneven, blunt, and the tips are broken off.
The serial numbers appear in the upper left and lower right portion of the bill and are green on the Federal Reserve Notes and Red on the U.S. Notes. All serial numbers have eight numerals. Make certain the serial numbers prefix letters and the Federal Reserve letter correspond.
If the serial numbers are printed in off colors or appear ragged or uneven, assume the bill is counterfeit.