How to spot a counterfeit bill

WASHINGTON (10/23/07)--Creating fake money with a PC, scanner, and inkjet printer is easy, but counterfeiters are discovering that the latest, high-tech counterfeit-proof bills from the U.S. Treasury are making fake bills easier for consumers to detect, and punishment is swift (

It pays to know how to spot a fake. New $20 bills printed by the Treasury contain three key security features:

  1. The number "20" located in the bottom right corner made of color-shifting ink that changes from copper to green;
  2. A plastic security strip with the words "USA TWENTY";and
  3. A smaller version of President Andrew Jackson's portrait that's visible if you hold the bill up to a light.

The U.S. Secret Service offers advice to protect yourself from counterfeit scams:

  • Check for duplicate serial numbers.
  • Hold bills up to the light. A counterfeiter rarely can replicate the color-shift ink.
  • Be suspicious of bills of larger denominations and those that bear pre-1996 designs; nearly all pre-1996 money has been taken out of circulation and destroyed.
  • Take time to make sure the bills you receive look--and feel--legitimate. If the colors are off or the paper is not like papers on other bills, contact local authorities.

If you can't see any of the security features on the new bill, you may be holding a fake. Counterfeiting is a felony handled by the U.S. Secret Service. Anyone facing counterfeit charges could face up to 15 years in prison and stiff fines.

NCUA Equal Housing Lender

Home & Family Finance® Resource Center
  Copyright © 2007 - Credit Union National Association, Inc.