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Fraud Fighter's QuickGuide to Detecting Counterfeit Money

Gary Satanovsky

Go into any of tens of thousands of restaurants, bars or retail stores these days, and chances are next to the register you will see a small, black device bearing the Fraud Fighter™ logo and emitting a violet glow. The counterfeit detection device – typically the model UV-16 or POS15 – works on a simple concept: just slip your credit card or any genuine US banknote of greater than $2 denomination under its light and look for the glowing fluorescent verification feature. Credit cards reveal hidden lettering, while a line on US banknotes glows a solid primary color. Even sophisticated counterfeit money operations stand no chance against a quality UV light scanner and a well-trained cashier.

Genuine U.S. money is mostly cotton paper and special ink, neither of which contain the glowing element, phosphor. Put them under ultraviolet light and they appear dark, emitting no colors that we can see. Except for the one part that does light up – the security strip. The strips are coated with phosphors that glow noticeably under UV lights. Causing each denomination to glow a different color is simply a matter of using different chemicals for the phosphor coating.

Five-dollar bills glow blue under blacklights. A $10 glows orange, $20s are green, $50s are yellow, and the 100 dollar bill will have a red strip.

Credit cards work much the same way. Regular plastic has no phosphors, and therefore does not react to UV light. But an embedded symbol or lettering can be coated with phosphor chemicals to glow under these lights. While there are no standard colors for credit card UV security features, any kind of distinct pattern usually indicates a genuine card.

Quick Guide

Machines like the UV-16 are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to quickly identify counterfeit money and fake credit cards for almost any business – as evidenced by our long and distinguished customers list. Used along with a handy illustrated guide, pictured above, it is easy to match the proper security strip color to the proper banknote denomination and reduce your counterfeit losses to zero. To download a copy of this counterfeit money QuickGuide simply follow the link.

For heavier cash-handling needs, Fraud Fighter offers electronic money counters and currency scanners which can read upwards of 60 bills every minute while spitting back out all counterfeits.


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