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How to spot the fakes

November 10, 1999

U.S. Secret Service Agent Steve Campbell offered the following tips to determine if a bill is counterfeit.

If a bill is suspect, compare it to a real one of the same denomination and series.

Pay attention to the quality of the printing and paper characteristics.

A genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait usually looks lifeless and flat.

The fine lines in the border of a real note are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines may be blurred.

Genuine currency paper is embedded with tiny red and blue fibers. A counterfeiter may try to simulate that by printing lines on the surface, which are revealed by close inspection.

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The new series, first issued in 1996, has additional security features such as a watermark of the figure in the portrait and fine-line printing that's difficult to reproduce.

The number in the lower right corner is printed with ink that changes from green to black, depending on what angle you're looking at the bill.

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