With Small Business Profits at Stake, Can You Spot Fake Money?

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6 Ways to Spot Fake Money and Protect Your Business

When a rash of fake money found its way into an Oregon community it left residents and many small business owners holding the bag. This cautionary tale provides a good reminder to provide information and training to employees in how to spot counterfeit currency.

Recent Scams a Good Reminder – US Small Business Owners Need to Know How to Spot Fake Money

Can you (and your employees) spot fake money?

Residents selling items on Craigslist in the Corvallis, Oregon area fell victim to thieves using counterfeit $20 dollar bills to purchase electronic devices. Though two of the suspected counterfeiters have already been arrested, the incidence serves as a good reminder to all – including small business owners – of how important it is for employees to know how to spot a fake.

The US Secret Service shares 5 ways to spot fake currency, including key differences in the portrait of the president or statesman on the bill, differences in the Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals, differences in the printed borders, differences in serial numbers and in the paper itself, including photos.

One other way that scammers try to fool unsuspecting sellers is by using real money, but altering the denomination (called “Raised Notes”). It would be easy for cashiers in a fast-paced setting to quickly scan the denomination numbers on the corners but fail to notice that the portrait and words don’t match.

Training clerks, cashiers, wait staff and others who accept money in your organization to review these key areas can help them spot fake currency before it results in theft from your organization.

6 Ways to Spot Fake Money and Protect Your Business

This wikihow article provides detailed instructions for evaluating money to see if its counterfeit. You could easily take the steps they recommend and turn it into an internal training session for employees and incorporate this training into new hire training and employee policy and procedure manuals.

6 Ways to Spot Fake Money and Protect Your Business

They recommend these six steps for detecting counterfeit money:

  • Feel the texture of the bill (people who handle good money on a regular basis can often feel the difference in the paper itself between real money and counterfeit bills)
  • Did you know? All denominations of US currency, with the exception of $1 and $2 dollar bills have been redesigned at least once since 1990; compare the bill with another of the same denomination and series.
  • Compared to real US currency, fake bills will often be flat, lack detail and have poor print quality – look for blurry areas, especially in detailed printing areas such as borders.
  • All US paper money has tiny red and blue fibers embedded in the paper. Counterfeiters try to replicate this by printing red and blue onto the paper.
  • Check the serial numbers. Serial numbers on a single bill should match and be evenly spaced and clearly printed. But serial numbers are unique to each bill; if you receive multiple bills that all have the same serial number, they’re counterfeit!
  • Look for security features in all denominations (except $1 and $2 dollar bills). The list of security features included on $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 can all be found in step 6 on the wikihow article page, as can more detail about each of the recommended steps, and photos that could enhance your employee training materials.

You might also like: 4 Ways to Become the Business Leader You Always Wanted Yourself – Infographic

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