With millions of fake dollar bills in circulation in the economy, you surely don’t want to get involved in a transaction where you’re handed over counterfeit money. Especially for cash-based businesses, this could mean a significant loss of profits.

To spot counterfeit money, you can inspect the physical characteristics of the bills, such as text, inks, and watermarks. In addition, you can invest in innovative technology like a bill checker, which uses UV, infrared, and magnetic technology to instantly and accurately detect counterfeit money.

In this article, we’ll discuss five practical ways in detail to spot counterfeit money and save you from any financial loss.

1.    Study the Watermark

Studying the watermark on the bill is a great way to detect fake bills. There’s always a watermark on the right side of the note, and it only becomes visible when you hold it in the light. For some bills, it can be oval. While for others, it can be a copy of the face on the bill.

When holding the bill in the light, check the right side, and you should see a watermark for an authentic bill. If the watermark is a face, it should 100% match the face on the bill.

If you can already see the watermark on the bill without holding it up to the light, it’s most probably a fake note. 

2.    Check for Color-Shifting Ink

When using this technique to spot counterfeit money, you should keep an eye on the bottom right side of the bill as it changes colors due to the color-shifting ink. It works with banknotes $10 and up.

The numerals on the bottom right side of the bill should change colors, such as from gold to green or green to black when you slightly tilt it. If the note that’s in your hand doesn’t change colors when doing so, you should know it’s a fake bill.

3.    Feel the Texture of the Bill

The paper used for producing banknotes is not available commercially. Therefore, it’s hard for forgers to imitate the feel and texture of the paper accurately. Real bills feel crisp to the touch as opposed to fake bills.

Keep in mind that real bills have slightly raised ink, which no one can copy. With the help of your fingernail, slowly go through the note, and you should be able to feel resistance or vibration. If not, you must check the watermark and color-shifting ink to confirm the fake bill.

4.    Examine the Serial Numbers

Serial numbers on real money are perfectly aligned in a row and are evenly spaced. If this is not the case, you may be dealing with counterfeit money. Moreover, when a person hands over multiple fake bills to you and all carry the same serial numbers, they are fake notes.

5.    Look for the Colored Fibers

Although you may think that paper money is made of paper, it actually consists of linen and cotton. Therefore, a real bill has tiny red and blue fibers inside the paper.

Most counterfeiters try to replicate this by drawing or printing the red and blue colors on the paper. However, when you inspect closely, you can tell that these aren’t real fibers embedded in the paper, and they are just surface-level. This basically indicates the fakeness of the bill.