Protecting Your Business – The Real Risks of Fake Money

Counterfeit moneyby Axis Payments


We talk a lot about electronic payments here because, obviously, it’s the service our business provides. However, because we are constantly consulting small businesses on how to maximize their profits through accepting these types of payments, we should probably spend a little time talking about the most familiar form of payment: cash.

Cash payments still extremely prevalent especially for smaller transactions and high-volume businesses like retail, bars & restaurants. And unfortunately, “fake money” is a huge problem. How big? Well, the US Government seized about $261 million in fake currency in 2011 alone. And it’s getting worse every year!

So, retailers must be vigilant and continually try to mitigate their losses because nothing is worse for a small business than selling their products for worthless currency. But how do you do this?

You can try to do simple things such as not accepting bills larger than $20, for example. The problem with that is, it doesn’t take very many $20’s to add up to a whole lot of money. No, the best way to avoid this is to train your employees to identify counterfeit bills and not accept them at all to begin with.

The recent advancements in digital printing has created a boon for many counterfeit “wannabees” but you don’t have to fall victim to their shady attempts. It starts with the careful visual inspection of bank notes. Consider the following 8 identifiers of genuine bills and make it become a habit for you and your employees when accepting cash.

  1. Watermark – It’s the shadow of the portrait you see when you hold a bill up to the light. It’s common for counterfeiters to leave it off.
  2. Texture – If a bill is smooth to the touch, probably fake.
  3. Portrait – It should stand out from the rest of the bill. It’s difficult to achieve and many counterfeiters create bills where the portrait blends in with the background, making it easy to identify as a fake.
  4. Seals – If they are blurred, it’s fake. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury should both be clear and sharp.
  5. Serial Numbers – it’s common for fake bills to have identical numbers. Also, it can be difficult to replicate the size and spacing. The color should be the same green as the Treasury seal, too.
  6. Borders – If the borders are blurry, it’s fake. Low quality printing often causing the ink to bleed.
  7. Paper – Real currency has very small red and blue fibers embedded in the paper, which you can see upon close inspection. This is very difficult to replicate.
  8. Color – Genuine bills turn yellow when tested with an iodine detector pen. Counterfeits will generally turn black or blue.

You can also rely on technological solutions to assist you in combating fake bills. If it becomes a problem, considering deploying watermark lamps, UV lights, magnetic ink scanners or even a multi-test scanner at the point-of-sale to mitigate your risks.


Copyright 2015 Axis Payments