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Catch a Counterfeit:

3 Ways to Tell if a Bill Is Authentic

Color-Shifting Ink. If you hold the one of the most recent series $10, $20, $50 or $100 bills and tilt it back and forth, you can observe the numeral in the lower right hand corner as its color shifts.

Watermark. Hold the bill up to a light to view the watermark in an unprinted space to the right of the portrait. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the bill since it is not printed on the bill but is imbedded in the paper. Please note that the position, size and relative density displayed below are for illustrative purposes only and are approximate.

Security Thread With Microprinting. Hold the bill up to a light to view the security thread. You will see a thin imbedded strip running from top to bottom on the face of a banknote. In the $10 and $50 it is located to the right of the portrait, and in the $5, $20, and $100, it is located just to the left of the portrait. The $5 bill has USA FIVE written on the thread; the $10: USA TEN; the $20: USA TWENTY; the $50: USA 50; and the $100: USA 100.

If You Suspect A Counterfeit

If you suspect a counterfeit note or have information about counterfeiting activity, please report it immediately to the U.S. Secret Service, or to your local police. Please observe the advice which follows for your personal safety.

  1. Do not put yourself in danger.
  2. Do not return the bill to the passer.
  3. Delay the passer with some excuse, if possible.
  4. Observe the passer's description - and their companions' descriptions - and write down their vehicle license plate numbers if you can.
  5. Contact your local police department or call your local U.S. Secret Service Office.
  6. Write your initials and date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit note.
  7. Do not handle the counterfeit note. Place it inside a protective cover, a plastic bag, or envelope to protect it until you place it in the hands of an identified Secret Service Agent.
  8. Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a Secret Service Special Agent, or mail it to your nearest U.S. Secret Service field office.
  9. There is no financial remuneration for the return of the counterfeit bill, but you will have pride in doing the "right thing" to help combat counterfeiting.


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