SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Scammers are trying everything to make an extra buck, and with counterfeit money on the rise, it’s important to know how to tell if your money is real or if you’ve been scammed out of twenty dollars.
The U.S. Secret Service offers seven tips for what to do if you received a counterfeit bill. Jim Ford Jr., general manager of Ford & Bryant Car Care in Salina, who has been passed two counterfeit bills, offers his own seven tips to avoid taking fake money:
- Check the watermark. All bills, aside from $1 bills, have a watermark on the right side of the bill. The $10, $20, $50 and $100 have the portrait watermark, while the $5 has a large number 5 as the watermark. This is the easiest way to check for a counterfeit, Ford said. He flips over his cell phone and passes the bills across the light.
- Is there water damage? The counterfeit $20 bill Ford received in November 2013 had splotches of water damage in the top right corner and on Andrew Jackson’s face. Real money is printed on cotton and linen, so the ink shouldn’t smudge when it gets wet.
- Check the hair. On a real bill, each strand of hair will be separate and clearly defined. On a fake bill, the hair may look bunched together or blurry.
- Proper size. A counterfeit bill will often be smaller and thicker than a real bill. A fake $10 bill Ford received in February was noticeably smaller and thicker. Alexander Hamilton’s hair was blurry too.
- Check the security strip. Every bill, aside from $1 bills, have a security thread embedded in the bill that shows up under ultraviolet light. The color and placement of the thread is unique to each denomination. Ford said he has used handheld UV lights in the past, but finds them awkward to use and slower than looking for the watermark.
- The pen is not mightier. Ford said he used counterfeit detection pens in the past, but stopped after he received the fake $20. The bogus bill, the same bill with water damage and blurry hair, passed the pen test.
- Don’t touch it. If you do receive a counterfeit bill, touch it as little as possible. The less contamination the bill is exposed to between you and the police or the U.S. Secret Service, the better.
How to tell if a $20 bill is counterfeit
Here are some things to look for to check if a $20 bill may be counterfeit. The top bill is real, the bill on the bottom is counterfeit. Hover over the hotspots to read text. (Click here to view interactive graphic)
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