How To Detect Counterfeit Money
The public has a role in maintaining
the integrity of U.S. currency. You can help guard against the threat from
counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency.
Look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of
the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing
and paper characteristics. Look for differences, not similarities.
The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the
background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details
merge into the background which is often too dark or mottled.
Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals
On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury
seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven,
blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.
The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On
the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred
Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The
serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal. On a
counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the
Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout.
Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and
blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the
counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the
paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the
manufacturing of United States currency.