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Oct 30, 2012

Protect Yourself From Being The Victim Of A Counterfeit

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We have all probably been handed a counterfeit bill at some point in our lives, and, completely unaware, went on to spend it. Of course it goes without saying, counterfeiting is a serious crime; in fact it was at one time considered treason in the US and was punishable by death. But how do you know if you have a fake bill in your possession? Here is a simple guide to help your protect yourself from getting scammed - or from getting in trouble.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, criminals are finding new ways to reproduce the features that distinguish real currency from fake. It takes experience and keen sense to decipher real money from fake. Here are some general guidelines to follow in order to protect yourself from being the victim of a counterfeit scam the next time you are paid in cash.

Look at your money

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it's important to remember to look at your money. If you see anything remotely suspicious, then move on to the next steps.

Compare with other bills

If you have a suspicious-looking bill, compare it with a bill of the same denomination that you are sure is genuine. They key is to look for differences. not similarities.

Observe the portrait

If the portrait does not sharply stand out against the background, it is likely counterfeit. The lines should be clean and distinct, bringing the figure to life. The image on a counterfeit looks truly like a dead president - blotchy and lifeless.

Observe the seals

The seals of the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury the green and black sawtooth circles found to the left and right of the portrait. On a real example, the teeth on the wheel are sharper than a razor, not blunt and broken like you'd find on a fake.

Examine the border

Like the lines of the portrait, the intricate border should be crisp and clean and evenly spaced away from the border around the entire note. If the lines look hazy and have inconsistencies, then it is probably counterfeit.

Serial number

The serial number should be evenly spaced and exactly the same color as the Treasury Seal.

Fell the paper

Feeling the bill with your hands may prove just as useful as seeing it with your eyes. If you've felt US currency before, you know that textured has a distinct feel. Blue and red fibers are also embedded within the paper; counterfeiters will often replicate this by drawing thin lines on the money, which upon close examination are merely external. It's also illegal to reproduce the paper used to make currency.

Key security features

Security Strip - Different denominations have security strips embedded within that will glow different colors when viewed beneath a black light.
Watermark - There is a watermark revealing an image of the person whose portrait is on the bill. Since 1996, the watermark is found on $10 bills and higher. It was integrated into the $5 bill in the 1999 series.
Color shifting ink - On current bills in denominations of $10 and higher, special ink is used which appears to change color when the note is tilted.

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