Counterfeit money scams have been in existence since before the Civil War. And, although security features continue to be added to currency, counterfeiters' techniques and use of digital technology often make it difficult to detect a forged bill. BBB has been alerted that counterfeit bills have been circulating in the East Texas area and is advising businesses to make sure staff is adequately trained on how to detect them.
“Reviewing the various security features with staff can be the first line of defense against counterfeiters”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “If your employees are very familiar withwhat a real bill looks like they are less likely to be fooled by a fake one.”
BBB advises business owners to make sure their employees know the marks of real cash and provides the following clues on how to determine a bill’s authenticity:
Texture. Legitimate U.S. currency will have raised printing. Imitation bills will feel smooth.
Color shifting ink. The color of the dollar amount number on the bottom right hand corner should shift when you tilt it. By the “20” on a $20 bill, the color is copper, but when you tilt it, the number has a green tint. On $100 bills, the color change from copper to green happens on the liberty bell symbol.
Red and blue threads. Legitimate bills have threads woven in and out of the note. If you look closely at a fake bill you will see that the threads are on the surface.
Watermark. The watermark should be on the right side of the bill and should be an exact replica of the portrait on the note. If there is no watermark when you hold up the note against the light, then it is definitely counterfeited.
Security Thread. The security strip runs vertically on the note and can be seen when held up against a light. The $100 bill also has a blue security ribbon running vertically next to Benjamin Franklin’s image.
Microprinting. Legitimate $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 currency contain very small printing around the borders.
The following are some things that businesses can do to protect themselves against counterfeit money:
Keep an eye on local news. Counterfeit bills tend to come in spurts. If counterfeit money is showing up in your community, your police department’s website, social media, and or local news outlets should have that information.
Notify authorities. Report any counterfeits to the police and/or your local Secret Service field office. This can help authorities track down the source and prevent further damage to your community.
Stay alert during busy times. Counterfeiters often exploit the distraction caused by having many customers in a store at once. Businesses and shoppers should pay particular attention during the holiday season and other times when more shoppers may be about.
Keep in mind that you never want to put yourself or your employees in harm’s way. However, if you are suspicious, you might compare a suspicious note to an original. You can perhaps keep sample “legitimate bills” close by. Or, you may simply ask for a different bill.
It’s also a good idea to ensure your business has insurance which covers any loss which may arise from receiving counterfeit money.
For more information about U.S. currency, go to https://www.uscurrency.gov/. For additional resources on how to build a better business and to find out how to network with other businesses, go to bbb.org.
Mechele Mills is the President|CEO for the Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas. Prior to her role at BBB, she led and consulted organizations of all sizes, managing operations, sales marketing, and personnel for both the public and private sector. She holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism/PR from the University of Texas at Tyler and a Master’s in Business Administration from Baylor University.