5 easy ways to check your money for counterfeits without extra recourses

The United States authorities arrested 3,028 people in 2011 for counterfeiting US dollars. In total, authorities removed $261 Million in counterfeit dollars from circulation during the year.

The European Central Bank reports that on average, a total of 550,000 to 800,000 counterfeit euro notes are removed from circulation each year.

Most of the fake money is in 20 and 50 euro notes.

In India this year authorities detected over 400.000 transactions with counterfeit money.Which is an increase of 400 percent over last year.

Just a few facts from last year

Now, after reading that. I want to ask you a question. 

How much time do you spend looking at your money when you accept it from someone and put it in your wallet?

My guess is very little to nothing. 

In this article I want to give you some easy tips on checking your money for counterfeits. All these tips can be used without any other recourses and can be done very quickly. The tips I will describe are tips you can use in general. I will not describe any specific notes. I will explain some safety measures that are being used all around the world. Not all five of my tips will be in every banknote. But you will see a lot of them no matter what currency you hold. And after reading this you will be able to tell wether they are good or counterfeits.

Okay here we go. Five easy ways to check your money for counterfeits.


A watermark is made by impressing a water-coated metal stamp or dandy roll onto the paper during manufacturing. Right after the security paper has been created. A watermark is nothing more then thickness or density variations in the paper. Which reveals a recognizable image or pattern when you hold it to the light. This is one of the oldest security measures, but still a good one today.

Euro watermarkCredit: De Nederlandse Bank

Most counterfeits don't even have one. If a counterfeit does have a watermark. Usually it is made as following. A counterfeiter will print both sides of a banknote on two different pieces of paper. Then he will make a forgery from the image or pattern with a 3rd piece of paper. He will simply put the forged image or pattern in between the two printed ''bank note's'' and glue them together. So if you hold the counterfeit money to the light you will see something that looks like the original watermark. Know your watermarks. Do you know what kind of watermark your country uses in their banknotes? A lot of different kinds of paper are being used to make counterfeit money. Some of them already having a watermark in them. Perhaps totally different from the original. Make sure you know what kind of watermark your currency uses.

Security Thread

A safety thread is a piece of thin ribbon that is threaded trough the bank note's paper. What's great about this security feature is that the ribbon is put in the piece of paper during the very first part of the process. 

The creation of the security paper. When the pulp that has to form the security paper is being put together the ribbon goes in there. Which means that the security thread has to be inside the bank note. Either inside or as they call it ''woven'' trough the banknote. So you will see the security thread come out at one side and in on the other. You can check this security measure by holding it to the light.

100 dollar bill with security threadCredit: sprecto online

It is not possible for a security thread to be on top of a banknote. Or on the back. As you can imagine, this is quite hard to counterfeit. 

Most of the times different values of money bills have a different location of the security thread. It is optionable to put micro text or UV reactive ink on the ribbon but without other recourses you won't be able to check these safety measures.

Optically variable ink

The ink shows two different colors depending on the angle the banknote is viewed at. if you hold the bill in one angle the ink might be green and if you shift to another angle it might become gold. This seems to be a very easy security measure. But what's good about this one, is that optically variable ink is very hard to get. There is only a few company's in the world who provide it. And if you try to order it you will be screened and registered and kept an eye on. That is, if they say yes to your request. Which is highly unlikely.

OVICredit: wikipedia

Counterfeits are rarely seen with optically variable ink. And to check this all you have to do is shift the angle of the bank note. Another possible check to do is to use your fingernail and scratch the optically variable ink. If the counterfeiters did some tinkering with home made ink you should scratch it right off. This security measure also requires some knowledge from you. You'll need to find out where the optically variable ink should be on your bank note's. And what colors they should have/turn into.


These are small fibers sprinkled randomly across the security paper. You have to look closely, but they are visible with the bare eye. Just like the security thread these fibers are put into the paper itself when it still is a bunch of pulp. So the fibers should not be able to come off. It might look like they are on top of the bill and you might feel them a little. As I mentioned before they are sprinkled randomly across a bank note. Which means it is not possible to have two different notes with filaments on exactly the same location. This is impossible.

A counterfeiter is not going to make 1 fake bank note. He wants to print hundreds at a time. So do you think he will randomly sprinkle these filaments across every single bank note? You do the math. 

The image below contains a false Indian bank note on the left, and a good one on the right. As you can see it is optionable to have the filaments respond to Ultraviolet light.

Counterfeit indian banknote next to a real one.Credit: The Indian times


See trough register

This security measure is applied by a press that simultaneously presses both sides of a bank note. It will press a part of an image or number on one side, and the other part on the opposite side, at the same time. If you lay the banknote on a table you will only see half of the image or number. But then when you hold the bank note to the light the image or number will become one.

See trough registerCredit: De Nederlandse bank

What's good about this security measure is that a machine that presses simultaneously is very expensive. So most counterfeiters decide to try it their self. 

Checking this is once again done by holding the bank note to the light and seeing if the two halves are matching together. You can imagine if you have to do this yourself the two halves will never become a totally straight image or number.


These were 5 easy ways to check your money for counterfeits without needing the help of any recourses. I hope that I prevented some of you from falling into a scheme.