Ask an Officer
Question: How can I identify counterfeit money? Answer: Although we handle money on a daily basis and pay little attention to what is on each bill, U.S. currency incorporates numerous security features that make it difficult to illegally duplicate. For instance, the paper itself is comprised of 25 percent linen and 75 cotton with small blue and red threads that appear randomly throughout. Most people first recognize that the feel of counterfeit money is much different than that of genuine currency. Newer bills (2004 and present) include watermarks that are visible from both sides when held up to the light and some denominations ($10, $20, $50, and $100) have color shifting ink. Newer bills, except the $1 and $2 denominations, have a security thread that is visible when held up to the light. If one was so inclined, they can purchase a special detector pen that may be used to identify counterfeit bills. Most of these pens use an iodine solution that reacts differently when applied to wood-based paper vs. fiber-based paper. Remember, when in doubt, check it out. Just because someone hands you a bill, it doesn’t mean you have to take possession of a bill that you suspect is a counterfeit. If you have a question you’d like to ask the VPD, please email it to email@example.com.