According to the US Department of the Treasury, there are $70 million counterfeit notes circulating in the US. According to the Federal Reserve, the $20 bill is the most counterfeited bill in the US. Due to its frequent use in transactions, the $20 is often overlooked by even the simplest of tests for authenticity.
As a small example, according to the US Secret Service $3,000 to $4,000 in fake money is spent in Southwest Florida every five days.1
In the past, torn parts of a larger denomination bill were taped to the corners of a smaller bill in hopes it wouldn’t be detected. Counterfeiters would also use heavy paper printed on a color laser printer so only an experienced cashier might be able detect the fake. In the latest iteration of counterfeiting, the $1 bill is being bleached and the paper is used to print higher denomination bills.
Due to this bleaching of bills, counterfeit-detecting pens, which only check the paper, are no longer good enough to determine which bills are fake and which are real. To thoroughly check for authenticity, a bill must be evaluated two ways:
- Magnetic (MG) Detection verifies the presence of ferromagnetic ink used to print authentic bills, which have complex magnetic patterns that are undetectable to the naked eye.
- Infrared (IR) Detection, mostly found in high-end bill detectors, confirm the portions of the banknote printed in infrared ink. IR features on US banknotes are designed to be machine readable, not human readable, making them extremely difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.
The damage may be even greater. Besides loss of revenue, if the cashier doesn’t recognize fake bills and inadvertently gives them to customers with their change, the retailer can be put in legal jeopardy for passing counterfeit currency.
Fake IDs and cloned credit cards are on the rise
According to the US Federal Reserve Payments Study 2016, counterfeit or cloned credit cards account for 44% of the most common form of card fraud in the US. In order to eliminate or greatly reduce the risk, merchants must verify the physical credit cards they accept. But, how?
Additionally, businesses that serve or sell liquor or medical cannabis encounter high liability associated with accepting fake identification for underage drinking or purchasing cannabis. The New Journal at Yale reports that 37% of students at Yale University and several other colleges have purchased or are using fake IDs.2 These instances can result in hefty fines or even a suspension or revocation of their license.
You can avoid these unfortunate events by taking a few seconds to check the physical security features already embedded on valid IDs and Credit Cards. When validating driver’s licenses and many credit cards, it’s important to note that there are hidden images that can only be detected with an Ultraviolet (UV) Detector. Using this will allow you to see the holograms embedded in valid IDs, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and passports.
Due to the business and legal risks, its vital that your customers verify currency, credit cards, and IDs
There are many products on the market that are designed to detect counterfeit currency. The pens are still widely used and remain the most economical. While somewhat effective, there is an increased risk due to the newer counterfeiting methods.
Currency Verification devices that employ both MG and IR technology are readily available. They can range in price from $200 to several thousand depending on their capabilities. Some of these devices are also counters and bill “discriminators”, which can verify the bill, determine the face value, and keep a running total. (e.g., SecureMaster, Semacon, MMF, AccuBanker, etc.)
ID and Credit Card Verification
UV lights are still the most effective method for verification of an ID or credit card. They range from something as small as a flashlight to a countertop unit that lets you see an entire ID at one time. (e.g., HQRP, Cassida, MMF, Royal Sovereign, etc). They can range in price from $25 to well over $500.
Multitasking Units for both Currency and ID/Credit Card Verification
There are ways to use a single unit to combine both bill and ID/credit card verification. Some businesses find that UV can check both currency and IDs/credit cards. Others use a combination device that incorporates both MG/IR for more positive bill verification and UV for ID and credit card validation. (e.g., MMF)
**Origoanlly published by Larry Greenberg 11/13/18