Frauds, Scams, and Identity Theft

Counterfeit Money Tips

By Zan Deery, Communications/Investigations
Better Business Bureau
Re-printed in the Ellensburg Chamber Exchange March 2006

Every year businesses are victimized by the counterfeiting of United States currency and other U.S. obligations. Those who fail to carefully examine the money they receive or who cash checks and bonds without requesting proper identification are potential victims. Only with the public's cooperation can the United States Secret Service reduce and prevent these crimes. One recently shared tip on how to tell if a bill is counterfeit:

Take any bill that is a denomination of $10 or more and look directly at the lower right-hand corner number (for example, if it's a $10 ---look for the "10" there---With $20-look for the "20").

These specific numbers on the face of our currency are printed using a special metallic color-ink that color shifts, if it's real. The color change is usually from black to copper. Even at a distance, there will be a color shift. If there is no shift, then more than likely you are dealing with a bogus bill. We encourage you to pass this info onto your checkout clerks, counter people, and tellers so they are in the know!

KNOW YOUR MONEY: If you receive a counterfeit:

  1. Do not return it to the passer.
  2. Delay the passer if possible.
  3. Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions, and the license numbers of any vehicles used.
  4. Contact your local police department or United States Secret Service field office. These numbers can be found on the inside front page of your local telephone directory.
  5. Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.
  6. Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.
  7. Surrender the note or coin to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent.

Prosecutor's comment:
At the time you are receiving or believe that you are receiving a counterfeit bill or coin, if the person is still in your business or has just left, dial 911 as opposed to trying to get to a phone book and look up the telephone number. If you discover the counterfeit at a later point in time, call the police department with jurisdiction and report the crime to them. It is helpful to gather any video surveillance that you might have of the incident. There is no local office or contact number for the Secret Service.