In an age where digital payments and plastic money dominate, it’s easy to forget the importance of scrutinizing cash transactions. Yet, counterfeit currency remains a significant concern for businesses and individuals alike. Being able to recognize fake money is essential to protect your financial interests. In this blog post, we’ll explore some key features to look for when accepting cash, so you can guard your business and your wallet against counterfeit bills.

Print Quality: One of the first things to check is the print quality. Genuine currency is printed with a high level of precision and detail. Pay attention to fine lines, intricate patterns, and the sharpness of images. Counterfeit bills often exhibit blurry lines, fuzzy text, and a lack of detail.

Color-Changing Ink: Many modern bills include color-changing ink, which shifts in color when you tilt the bill. For instance, on a genuine $100 bill, the ‘bell in the inkwell’ turns from copper to green when tilted. Counterfeiters have a tough time replicating this feature, so it’s a reliable way to spot fake money.

Security Ribbons: Security ribbons are an important security feature found on several bills. These embedded threads can be seen when the bill is held up to the light. On a genuine $20 bill, for example, you should see a security thread that reads ‘USA TWENTY.’ Counterfeiters may try to replicate this, but a closer look reveals that their imitation thread may be printed on the surface, rather than being part of the bill itself.

Texture of the Bill: Counterfeit currency often feels different from genuine bills. Real currency is made from a blend of cotton and linen, which gives it a distinctive texture. Counterfeit bills are typically printed on regular paper, which feels noticeably smoother. Run your fingers over the bill’s surface to sense the genuine texture. Also, hold it up to the light and check for tiny red and blue fibers scattered throughout the paper.


To ensure you’re equipped to identify counterfeit currency, you can take advantage of the U.S. Secret Service’s resources. They provide an informative tool, ‘Know Your Money,’ which details all the security features built into U.S. currency. Here’s a link to the PDF:

By staying informed and learning to recognize the security features designed to protect the integrity of our currency, you can significantly reduce the risk of accepting counterfeit money. It’s a skill that can protect your business, your finances, and your peace of mind.

Remember, if you ever suspect that you’ve received counterfeit currency, do not attempt to spend it. Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately to report the incident. Your diligence not only safeguards your interests but also contributes to the broader effort to combat counterfeit currency.