Countering counterfeit currency

dollar billThe US dollar is one of the most faked currencies out there. It is estimated by the US Secret Service, the federal agency responsible for protecting the US currency, that prior to the adoption of a national currency in 1863, up to one-third of the currency in circulation was counterfeit.

Today, while 90% of all known counterfeit currency is seized before it reaches circulation, combating counterfeit remains core to preserving the integrity of America’s currency.

The top 5 things the US does to prevent fake dollar bills:

  • Portrait – the portrait became much more sophisticated and closer to a life-like picture, than the screen-like background it previously was. On counterfeit bills, the portraits often appear to be unclear or unnaturally white.
  • Border – the border design is now composed of intricate, criss-crossing lines that are clear and unbroken, distinguishing them from the smudged or broken lines of counterfeit bills.
  • Paper – the  paper is embedded with tiny red and blue fibers. A polyester thread is also woven inside $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills with ‘USA TEN’, or ‘USA TWENTY’ printed on it to match the denomination. This makes it nearly impossible for photocopiers to reproduce.
  • Special inks – the ink used is a special, ‘never-dry’ ink that can be rubbed off. This is not foolproof, however, since ink on some counterfeit bills can be rubbed off as well.
  • High tech printers/microprinting – surrounding the portrait are the words “The United States of America” in miniature letters. It appears to be a black line to the naked eye, and that’s how a photocopier would reproduce it.


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Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”



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