Watching Out for Counterfeit Money

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As a business owner, you’re always on the lookout for ways to reduce expenses and increase profits. But you might not consider how counterfeit money can impact your bottom line. Yet small businesses may be especially at risk, since the $20 bill is often a popular choice of counterfeiters, who buy small items and pocket the legitimate cash you hand over as change.

Here are three things you need to know.

How to detect counterfeit money. Banks have ultraviolet machines that scan bills to ensure they’re genuine. The problem? If you’re at the bank depositing the cash, it’s already too late.

A better option: Use counterfeit detection pens at the point of sale. Unfortunately, some experts say these pens, which look like highlighters and contain a solution that marks fake bills without harming real ones, are not very accurate.

Your best bet may be the low tech method of training your employees so they know what to look for. For instance, the new US currency has color-shifting ink. You can tilt the bill back and forth to shift the color of the numeral in the lower right hand corner from green to black or black to green.

In addition, you can see the currency watermark from both sides of the bill if you hold the bill held up to a light. You can also view the security thread that runs from top to bottom on the face of the currency this way.

Who to contact if you receive a counterfeit bill. File a report with your local police department. They’ll work with the Secret Service, the federal agency in charge of investigating counterfeit money.

How to get reimbursed for the loss. Unless you have specific insurance coverage, you’re out of luck. No one reimburses your business if you get stuck with counterfeit notes.

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