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🙃🤢🤓 Considering there's an estimated $70—$200 million in counterfeit bills circulating in the U.S., learning how to spot a fake 100 dollar bill is a great idea.XResearch source Fortunately, it's easy to tell if a 100 dollar bill is real if you know what to look for. To help you out, we've made a list of all the ways you can spot a fake 100 dollar bill, whether you're looking at a new bill or an old one. Keep reading to learn how to check a bill's serial number, color-changing ink, watermark, and more.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Checking Newer Bills (Series 2009 and Later)
- 1Look at the serial numbers. The serial number should correspond to the series. The serial number appears in the upper left and lower right corners. If the serial number doesn’t correspond to the series, then you are dealing with a counterfeit.
- If the bill is series 2009, then the serial number should begin with J.
- If the bill is series 2009A, then the serial number should begin with L.XResearch source
- 2Feel Franklin’s shoulder. The new $100 uses raised printing on Ben Franklin’s shoulder. Run your fingers over the spot. You should be able to feel texture.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Check for color-change ink. There is a large copper-colored inkwell to the left of the bill’s serial number. Inside the inkwell is a bell, which should change color from copper to green as you look at the bill from different angles.XResearch source
- The numeral 100 beside the inkwell should also change color, just as it does on some older $100 bills.
- 4Hold the bill up to the light. An embedded thread runs just to the left of Franklin’s portrait. The letters "USA" and the number 100 alternate along the strip, which is visible from both sides of the note.
- If you hold the bill up to UV light, then the strip should glow pink.XResearch source
- You can also purchase a counterfeit detector which shines UV light, which might be helpful if your business handles a lot of bills. A popular option is the AccuBanker D63 Compact. It costs about $50.XResearch source
- 5Check the blue security ribbon. Just to the right of Franklin’s portrait is a blue security ribbon. This ribbon is 3-D. Move the bill back and forth and check that you see the number 100 and tiny bells move from side-to-side as you move the bill.XResearch source
- This ribbon is woven into the paper, not pasted on. Accordingly, if the blue ribbon is peeling off the bill, then you have a fake.
- 6Look for the watermark portrait. Hold the bill to the light and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin in the white oval on the right-hand side. You can see the watermark portrait on either side of the bill.XResearch source
- 7Use a magnifying glass to find the microprint. Check around Franklin’s jacket collar. You should see the words "The United States of America" in small type.XResearch source
- You should also see "USA 100" around the white space that contains the portrait.XResearch source
- The words "100 USA" should also appear around the quill pen to the right of Franklin.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Checking Older Bills (Pre-Series 2009)
- 1Check the date. The newest $100 bills are "Series 2009" bills, and they have many different security features. Older bills are being phased out of circulation to prevent counterfeiters from fooling people.XResearch source Nevertheless, older bills are still legal tender, so if you get one you shouldn’t automatically assume it is fake. Check the date on the bill.
- The average $100 bill stay in circulation for seven years. Accordingly, most of the older bills should be out of circulation by now. Nevertheless, you might have one or more stored at home that you want to check.
- 2Feel the bill. U.S. currency has a distinctive feel. The bills are printed on cotton and linen, not paper. Also, bills should have slightly raised ink, which is a feature of the printing process.XResearch source If you handle currency as part of your job, you should quickly develop familiarity with the feel of authentic money.
- Using touch is not foolproof, however. The most successful counterfeiters will bleach real money and then print over it.
- Nevertheless, counterfeiters struggle to reproduce the raised printing, so feeling the bill is a good first step.
- 3Look for the security thread. A $100 bill printed after 1990 should have a security thread on the left-hand side that is only visible when you hold the bill up to the light. The words "USA" and "100" should alternate on the thread. If you hold the bill up to UV light, then the thread glows pink.XResearch source
- 4Check microprinting. Older bills used microprinting as a security feature. Use a magnifying glass to check for microprinting, which will appear in different spots depending on the year the bill was issued.
- For example, in $100 bills issued between 1990-1996, the words "The United States of America" should appear on the outer edge of the portrait oval.XResearch source
- For bills issued between 1996-2013, "USA100" should appear in the numeral 100 on the lower left-hand corner. You should also see "The United States of America" in the left lapel of Franklin’s coat.XResearch source
- 5Look for color-shifting ink. $100 bills issued between 1996-2013 employ color-shifting ink. Tilt the note in the light and look in the lower right-hand corner. The numeral 100 should change from green to black.XResearch source
- 6Find the watermark portrait. Bills printed after 1996 have a watermark portrait of Benjamin Franklin in the blank space at the right-hand side. The image should be very faint but visible from either side.XResearch source
- 7Pay attention to blurry borders. Real bills should have clear, sharp lines, which are very hard for counterfeiters to reproduce. If you see blurry printing or text, then you are probably dealing with a counterfeit.XResearch source
- 8Use a counterfeit money detection pen. This pen is sold at Amazon and costs $5. It checks for common chemicals used in counterfeits. However, fraudsters have gotten wise and no longer use the chemicals, so the pen isn’t foolproof.XResearch source
- Nevertheless, you can now buy a counterfeit detection pen that has a UV light built into the cap and costs under $10.
- 9Compare it with another bill. No special security features were used on $100 bills printed before 1990. Accordingly, the best way to check its authenticity is to compare it to another $100.XResearch source You might have to go to a bank to check if the bill is authentic.
- You can also visit the U.S. Currency website and find images of older $100 bills.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Reporting Counterfeit Bills
- 1Hold onto a counterfeit bill. If you believe the bill is fake, you should not return it to the person who passed it to you.XResearch source Instead, try to delay the person. Call a manager to the front and tell the passer the manager needs to look at the bill.
- 2Write down details. As you wait, note important details about the passer. Write down their age, height, hair color, eye color, weight, and other unique features.XResearch source
- If the person drove to your business, try to get their license plate number.XResearch source
- Remember that the person giving you the bill might not be the counterfeiter, so don’t think you have to perform a citizen’s arrest or anything. They could be completely innocent.
- 3Initialize the bill. You should write your initials and the date in the white border surrounding the $100 bill.XResearch source
- 4Handle the bill sparingly. You’ll need to hand it over to the police, who might be able to pull fingerprints off the bill. For this reason, touch the fake $100 as little as possible. Store it in an envelope in your register.XResearch source
- Remember not to put it in with the other bills. Instead, mark your envelope "counterfeit" so that you can find it quickly.
- 5Call the police. You can find the number in your telephone book. Tell them you have a counterfeit $100 bill and give them your location. They will tell you what to do next. Generally, the police will contact the Secret Service to investigate.XResearch source
- You can also call the Secret Service directly, if you want. You can find your local office at this website: https://www.secretservice.gov/contact/field-offices/. Enter your zip code.
- 6Hand over the counterfeit bill. Only turn the bill over to an identified police officer or Secret Service agent. If you give the bill to the Secret Service, you may need to complete a Counterfeit Note Report for each bill.XResearch source
- QuestionWhat is the purpose of this?Community AnswerSomeone might pay you with counterfeit money, and when you use that money to buy something, you could get into trouble.
- QuestionWhat does it mean when clerks mark the $100 bill with a yellow marker?Community AnswerThey are checking to see if the bill shows black or yellow. Black means it is a fake bill; yellow proves it to be real.
- QuestionWhat do I do to get reimbursed for a fake one hundred dollar bill?Community AnswerYou don't get reimbursed, which is why detection of counterfeit bills is so important. Suspect bills are given to the Secret Service; they keep them if they're counterfeit and return those that are real. If the person who passed the counterfeit bill is apprehended, you could file against the perpetrator in small claims court to attempt to reclaim the money.
- QuestionWhat if the dollar was damaged, and an innocent person is arrested?Top AnswererThat is very unlikely. The Secret Service can tell if a dollar is just damaged or if it is actually fake. If someone does still get arrested though, they can still challenge the arrest in court.
- QuestionAre pre 2009 100s collectable?Top AnswererSome collectors like to have every series of certain denominations, and pre 2009 100s are no longer produced, but they are still somewhat common. While they may not be very collectable now, I would expect it to increase as time goes by.
- QuestionWhat is the incentive for losing a $100 bill unreimbursed?Top AnswererThis article mostly serves as a guide for merchants to verify a $100 bill during a sale. If a merchant finds a fake bill, then they obviously would not accept it for payment. The incentive would be that they would not lose out on $100. For individuals who are checking their own bills, the incentive is not going to jail, since using a counterfeit bill could land you there.
- QuestionHow can you tell if a 1990 100 dollar bill is real?Top AnswererYou can check the method for pre 2009 series bills to verify older $100 bills.
- QuestionWhy are their Asian letters on my 100 bill?Top AnswererThose bills are counterfeit. Those bills were made by Chinese banks to train their bank tellers. They should have never entered circulation, but some have. You should contact the Secret Service to report these bills to them.
- QuestionWhat do I do if I have a damaged or half missing hundred dollar bill?Top AnswererYou can get it replaced. The wikiHow article, How to Get Damaged Currency Replaced has detailed instructions that should be able to help you.
- QuestionIs there a way to print this article with the pictures? Just hitting Print does not show the pictures. I don't see a print option at the end of the article which would allow for that.Top AnswererIf you scroll down to the bottom, underneath the languages, but above the thank you message, there should be some menu options. One of the options is "Print". When you click the button, a dialog box will open asking you whether or not you want to include pictures. Click the option to include pictures, and then print from there. If you're having trouble finding the link, check out the images on How to Print a wikiHow Article, which highlight the print button.
About This Article
To determine if a 100 dollar bill is real, rub it between your fingers to see if you can feel any raised ink. If you can't, the bill is probably fake. Make sure the portrait of Ben Franklin looks realistic, sharp, and highly-detailed. You can also hold the bill up to a light to see if it's real. With the portrait of Franklin facing you, look for a watermark that says "100 USA" to the left of the portrait and a ghost copy of the portrait on the right side of the bill. If they're not there, the bill likely isn't real. If you have a newer 100 dollar bill with a blue ribbon on it, move the paper back and forth at an angle. You should see small, blue 100s reflected inside of the blue strip. There should also be an orange ink container for a quill pen next to the blue strip with a liberty bell inside that shines when you move the bill. If you want to know how to report counterfeit bills, read on!