How to spot counterfeit MoneyDave Bunyard
Spotting Counterfeit Money: Top Tips You and your Staff Should Know
Counterfeit money costs businesses heavily every year. Do you and your staff know how to spot it? While UV detection lamps for counterfeits, smart cash counters, and even counterfeit detection pens, can be helpful tools, everyone handling cash in your business should know other physical characteristics of legitimate banknotes to help improve your chances of detecting fakes. Here’s some top tips.
Luckily, every country’s Reserve Bank builds a host of features into their notes for exactly this purpose. You should always check the specific features of your local banknotes, but here’s some general tips.
Look and Feel
Many fakes are surprisingly bad. They’ll be introduced to your business in small amounts, at a busy time, hoping the cashier misses them. Make sure your tellers and other cash handlers know what banknotes should look like, their colours, and feel. While the US Dollar is all one colour, currencies like South Africa and Canada have different colours by denomination. They are also printed on a unique paper that has a specific weight and feel. Pictures, prints, and signatures should be crisp and clean. Authentic notes you die-cast printing, meaning you get incredibly crisp fine lines. Microprinting- tiny areas of text that are barely visible- is also used and must be present.
Visible Safety Features
Many modern banknotes use other visible features that are hard to spoof, too. The US Dollar uses colour-shifting ink on the bill denomination, and if you tilt one, you’ll see the colour on the number shift. The South African Rand has this feature, too. It also has an in-built colour thread that’s incomplete until you hold the note to the light, and shows the denomination, the words ‘SARB’, and the coat of arms. It shifts colours when tilted.
Watermarks are embedded images sunk into the paper of the banknote. They’re often a replica of the face on the bill. Watermarks should only be visible when held to the light, should be in the correct place for your currency, and match the bill exactly. Some counterfeits are made by bleaching low denomination bills and printing higher ones on them, so a mismatch on the face is a big clue.
Raised print you can detect by feel is also used. On the South African Rand, the words ‘Reserve Bank’ and the face on the note are slightly raised and rough. Some currencies, like the US dollar, also embed colour threads in the paper- if these appear to be printed, not part of the paper, you likely have a counterfeit.
UV Detection and Serial Numbers
Once these physical checks are passed, the note can be put under a UV light designed to detect counterfeits. Make sure your staff knows what colour they glow on which denomination.
Serial numbers are present on every banknote. This can be tougher to pick up in rushed shop conditions, but make sure your staff at least check that the same serial number is not present on every banknote, and that the start of the number corresponds to the year it claims to have been printed.
Remember, these security measures are put in place not only to deter counterfeiters, but help your business identify risky notes too. Even one error can be a sign that something is wrong. With some basic training, however, your staff will become valuable front-line fighters in the war against counterfeiting. Paired with a powerful money counter from LJ International, and your chances of loss through counterfeiting will be greatly reduced.