There’s no shortage of cash circulating around the economy – about $824 billion, according to a University of Wisconsin study.
But a good chunk of that cash – $64 million based on one estimate – may not be on the up and up.
Counterfeit currency is a problem that just won’t go away, despite the increased use of credit and debit cards, and e-payment technologies. Whether it’s a street hustler passing off bogus $10 bills or professional counterfeiters dealing in heavy doses of $50 and $100 bills, fake currency has the full attention of the U.S. Treasury, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Secret Service.
But, as the Secret Service points out, the American public has a significant role to play in uncovering counterfeit currency. Small business owners and retail cashiers should be trained to examine and identify phony bills – but the truth is that anyone can learn to spot a piece of counterfeit cash.
Here are some tips on how to get a handle on bogus bills – they’re relatively easy to learn and can turn you into a sharp-eyed connoisseur of counterfeit cash.
Light it up – The Secret Service advises taking a questionable bill and holding it up under bright lighting. If it’s a good bill, you’ll see a holograph on the face-up side of the bill. Ideally, both of the images should match up perfectly. Under the same light, you should notice a thin vertical strip with text that spells out the currency’s denomination.
Look for changes in color – The U.S. Treasury offers this tip. Take any bill other than the $5 note and move it back and forth (ideally tilting it as you do so). You should notice a number in the lower right hand corner. If the bill’s good, the number’s color will shift from green to black and back again.