Turning Yard Sale Finds Into Profit

How to Spot Counterfeit Money

US Twenty Dollar BillWhether you are holding your own garage sale or shopping at them on a regular basis you should know how to spot the counterfeit US money you might encounter. Sales are typically cash only events so you can imagine the massive number of bills circulating at them each weekend.

With the sometimes low profitability of a home garage sale, a fake bill or two can really hurt. Fortunately, there are a couple of quick and easy checks you can perform to spot the counterfeit bill before it becomes your liability.

  1. When you first take a bill in your hands, rub it between your fingers. Does it feel like regular printer paper or does it have the “cloth” feel of real money?
  2. Hold the bill up to a light source to find embedded security devices. First look for the vertical security strip. Counterfeit bills are not likely to include this strip as it is difficult to duplicate.
  3. Current bills also have a watermark to the right of the portrait. The watermark should show the same face as shown in the portrait.
  4. Newer bills (excluding the $5 bill) employ a special “color-shifting” ink for the lower right-hand numeral. When you tilt the bill at different angles, the numeral will change from green to black.

The above steps should suffice for most people in a garage sale environment. Any deeper investigation of money being offered to you at a sale will probably not reveal anything further and could alienate a waiting customer or seller. However, if you feel the need to investigate more, here are three additional checks you can do:

Twenty Dollar Bill Under Black Light

The US Twenty Dollar bill's security strip glows green under UV light

  1. Using a black light, observe the security strip. On a $20 bill it should glow green. Other denominations glow with different colors.
  2. Using a magnifying glass, inspect the front border of the bill. You should be able to see micro printing just to the left of Andrew Jackson’s portrait with the words ”The United States of America 20 USA 20 USA”
  3. The portrait face should be lifelike and almost three dimensional. Counterfeit bills have flat and lifeless portraits.

Keep in mind that if you accept a fake bill, you own it. Nobody will reimburse you. Having said that, remember that many garage sale transactions take place with one and five dollar bills which are rarely counterfeited. Stay alert but don’t worry too much.

Posted in Yard Sale Buying

One Response to “How to Spot Counterfeit Money”

  • Connie Untalan says:

    I could not see the watermark portrait to the right of the obviously big portrait nor is the 20 usa 20 usa on the left; it is on the right and it is TWENTY USA TWENTY USA. Thank you for the info. Even though it had an error, it was helpful. Also, the coat has ridges you can feel by gently rubbing.

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