Counterfeit Currency

While counterfeit currency is not as prevalent as it once was, it can still be a cause of loss revenue for departments, especially during the holiday season. Banking & Accounting Operations is committed to assisting departments avoid this loss through education. Below are the two main topics covered on this webpage:

-      Identifying Counterfeit Currency

-      Handling Counterfeit Currency

Identifying Counterfeit Currency

There are three main methods in identifying counterfeit currency:

1.  Feel the paper

The US currency has a unique feel such as being slightly rough and not too slick or smooth

2.  Tilt the note

Tilt the note for color-shifting ink of the amount from copper to green for denominations $10 or higher

$100 bills has additional features such as 3-D Security Ribbon and the Bell in the Inkwell change from copper to green

3.  Check with light

Check with light for the watermarks and security threads

*Additional method can be utilizing the Money Marker. These markers change from a light to dark color when marked on counterfeit currency. The Money Marker can be obtain from any office supply store.

Handling Counterfeit Currency

As a merchant of University of Washington, below are three examples of how to properly handle counterfeit currency:

  • Recognized at Point-Of-Sale (POS) Transaction

    • Avoid accepting the counterfeit currency
    • Provide explanation how the counterfeit was identified in a professional manner. Do not accuse as often people may not be aware of the counterfeit
  • Accepted at POS and Recognized at Reconciliation

    • Do not recirculate the counterfeit currency
    • Take bill to bank for reporting or follow instructions on US Currency Education Program website, click here
      • NOTE: The bank will not credit or exchange counterfeit bills
    • Subtract the amount from the daily sales
    • Contact local police if suspected fraud ring
  • Discovered at Bank

    • The bank will debit the counterfeit currency from the deposit
    • If made in person, bank will request for the depositor to initial the correction
    • Banks are required to keep the counterfeit currency

Additional Resources

US Currency Education Program Website

US Currency Education Program Training Presentation - How to Check Your Money

US Currency Education Program Training Presentation - Know Your Money