If you are not from the USA, a cursory glance at the US Dollars may not tell you much. In fact, you may assume we use the same banknote for all denominations. Money in a lot of countries is different colors, so it is easier to identify.
Despite the initial confusion, most people figure out the US money fairly quickly. However, there’s another thing to be careful about when handling money which is not familiar to you – fake bills.
We asked professionals at Kolibri USA to tell us what the simplest ways are to protect yourself from counterfeit money while traveling in the USA.
Only Take Money from a Bank
One of the safest ways to ensure that your money is legitimate and safe is to only withdraw money at a bank or an ATM. This way you avoid being given suspect bills which you may not be able to use during your visit.
Even though this is probably only a viable solution at the beginning of your visit, before you start spending money (and receiving change), it is still a good way to start your trip. You will likely take larger denomination bills at the beginning of your trip, so it is better to ensure that it is safe.
US Dollar bills have a variety of safety features to prevent counterfeiting. Some are fairly easy to detect and identify, whereas others might only be discoverable with a counterfeit money detector or a similar machine.
Raised printing is one of the simpler and easier to spot safety features. Essentially, there are ridges and unsmooth texture on certain parts of the bill. You can detect them by gently running your finger over the areas.
If you can’t feel anything when running your finger, you should probably take a closer look at the bill you have been given.
Tiny Threads in the Paper
Most money in the world is printed on paper. However, the US currency is printed on a special cotton fiber material which is similar to paper, but sturdier. This makes counterfeiting more difficult, but not impossible.
That’s why there is another security feature embedded in the printing material itself. If you have a dollar bill near, take a closer look at the unprinted surfaces. You will notice small red and blue threads permeating the material.
Those are put in the paper itself to make it extra difficult to copy, and easier to identify the counterfeit money. Counterfeit bills typically only replicate the surface appearance of those threads, lacking any texture.
Ultraviolet Light Protection
Just like many other currencies in the world, the US Dollar is protected by a watermark which is printed with ink only visible under ultraviolet light.
This protection method is relatively simple but can be particularly effective, especially since it is available to a lot of people. Not only is it a part of most fake currency detectors, but it can also be bought as a separate tool in the form of a UV pen.
Even though this method alone is not going to tell you if the bill is absolutely genuine, it is still a handy and simple way to check.
Finally, one last and probably the simplest way to tell whether a US Dollar bill is fake is to check the watermark. Newer dollar bills typically have another picture of the face of the person on the bill hidden in plain sight.
In order to see the watermark, hold up the bill to the light. The face should appear on the right side of the bill. If there is no face, or the face is not the same as the one always visible, you are dealing with a counterfeit.
Staying safe from scams and fraud while on holiday is important, not only for your financial state, but also for your impression and experience of the vacation.