Four Reasons It’s so Difficult to Counterfeit U.S. Currency

There’s a huge black market for counterfeit money, from fake gold coins to fraudulent $20 bills. Fake currency is so hard to spot that it sometimes eludes bankers, but expert gold and coin dealers can generally spot a fake. As technology has improved, the U.S. Mint has had to employ new anti-counterfeiting measures, like the ones below, to make it harder for people to print fake money.

1. Color Shifting Ink

U.S. money under a blacklight

The $20 bill is the most commonly duplicated bill in the U.S., but criminals abroad prefer to duplicate those $100 bills. The Benjamins are printed using a color shifting ink with metallic flakes, which shifts the ink color from black to green when holding the bill at different angles. If the ink doesn’t change colors at different angles, odds are it’s fake.

2. Security Thread

This is one of the best-known anti-counterfeiting measures employed by the U.S. Mint, and it’s one of the most effective. A small security thread is woven into the bill, running from top to bottom and printed with the currency amount. It can be seen when held up to the light, and it glows a certain color respective to each bill when held over an ultraviolet light.

3. Watermark

The watermark is another effective anti-counterfeiting measure that makes it very difficult to duplicate the currency. Located to the right of the portrait, the watermark is visible from both sides of the bill. For $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills, the watermark is an image of the president whose face is on the bill; on the five dollar bill, the watermark is the numeral five. There are no watermarks on the one or two dollar bills.

4. Microprinting

Those solid lines or shading found on bills? They’re actually words printed in such a tiny font that they appear to be solid lines unless viewed under magnification. Those who still can’t tell might take their bill to a gold and coin dealer, who can evaluate the authenticity of the bill. The Mint employs this technique because it’s extremely difficult for people to reproduce at home.

It’s not just bills that are duplicated; many criminals have also tried to produce fraudulent coins! Unfortunately, some people who think their coin collections are worth thousands visit a gold and coin dealer only to find that their most valuable coin is a fake. Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers are experts, and we can evaluate your collection to make sure you don’t have any fakes. Call us at 404-236-9744 to schedule an appraisal appointment with Atlanta’s most transparent gold and coin dealers, or contact us for a mail-in appraisal.

Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at http://atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744. Be sure to "like" Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers on Facebook , follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their RSS feed to receive the latest news, tips and expert advice on old, rare, collectible and bullion coins.