Banking Basics

Counterfeit Money: How to Spot a Fake

By February 5, 2018No Comments

Can you spot a fake purse? Impostor cologne? Or a fake diamond? How about counterfeit money?

There are many people who can spot “fakes” from a mile away, but when it comes to fake money, it’s not as easy to identify. Unfortunately, many people don’t know they are using fake money to purchase items and they unknowingly pass counterfeit money when paying a merchant. Typically, money is not examined before being passed from one person to another.

There are several ways to identify fake notes without being an expert. First, money – otherwise known as Federal Reserve notes – is made of a special type of paper. It feels different than regular paper and contains specks of visible red and blue threads. All notes have a security thread to the right or left of the portrait. This thread is a thin ribbon woven through the paper. You should be able to see the thread from both sides of the bill. If you can only see it from one side there is a good chance is it fake.

In addition to security threads, all notes – except for a five-dollar bill – have a watermark portrait. The five notes have a watermark of a “5”. The watermark should be noticeable from both sides of the notes. Ten dollar to 100 dollar notes have color changing ink found in the lower right number. The iridescent color will change from green to copper when viewed at different angles. Fake notes will have just a solid color.

Check your wallet…is your money real? If you come across a fake bill, would you know what to do?

Unfortunately, if you unknowingly accept a counterfeit note you are out the money. But, you need to turn it in to your bank for processing. All counterfeit notes are processed and sent to the Secret Service for verification. If it is determined the note is not counterfeit, it will be sent back to your bank to credit you.

For more information on counterfeit money please visit


By Kandi Krebehenne, Security Officer