Workplace Safety

How to Check for Counterfeit Part 1

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

If in your line of business you or your staff have to deal with cash it's likely that you've come across the odd fake note from time to time. So how can you spot the bad notes from the good?

In any situation where you accept cash as payment for good or services there's a risk, albeit a relatively small one, of you being passed counterfeit money.

Some people feel uncomfortable about checking notes in front of their clients, believing that it give the impression that the don't trust them. The reality is that very often the odd counterfeit will be slipped into a bundle of notes without the recipient realising. They in turn use the note to pay you - and have done so unwittingly.

If you receive cash as payment you need to check its authenticity. Overcome any feelings of awkwardness that you think might be generated by explaining to the customer that you are not singling them out, it's just a matter of procedure. If your area has seen a spate of counterfeiting, your customer may even thank you for pointing that out.

Money forgers come up with ever more innovative ways of creating fake money. Some fakes are actually made from real notes! The problem is that what appears to be a $50.00 bill could well have started life as a $5 or $10.00 one. You can see for yourself, with such a mark up, where those ill gotten gains come from for the forger.

Trying to stay ahead of the game, forgers use various methods to create fake money and the problem is a widespread one.

If you have staff members who handle money on behalf of your company you need to teach them how to check for counterfeits. As a rule, all notes should be checked, even $5.00 bills.

Ultimately it's a matter for the police but here are the different methods you can use to establish if monies passed to you are authentic.

  • Hold the note up to the light. You are looking for a holograph image of the face on the bill. The face images should match. Say you receive what is known as a bleached $100 bill then the hologram face will be that of Abraham Lincoln when it should be Benjamin Franklin. Clear evidence that the $100 bill is not what it appears to be and is, beneath its disguise, a humble $5.00.
  • When you looking at a bill through the light this will reveal a slim vertical strip - the strip contains text spelling out the denomination of the bill.

The U.S. Treasurer has some advice about checking for the authenticity of bills :

Color shift ink: When you hold new series bills (all except the $5 bill) and tilt them to and fro, observe the numeral featured in the low right corner - its color changes from a green to a black and vice versa. If this occurs you can rest assured you are handling a genuine bank note.

Watermarks: Hold the note up to a light - you should see a watermark. This features in the clear space next to the main portrait, on the right. This watermark should be visible on each side of the note. It is embedded into the note's paper and rather than printed on the surface. Watermark visible both ways? Genuine.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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