Money is a valuable asset that can sometimes be taken for granted. While exchanging hands, cash usually passes through more than a few people. With its varying denominations, it can be difficult to tell a real bill from a counterfeit. While it may look genuine, if you see a few tell-tale signs on a $20 bill, it’s important to not use it. Police and other authorities advise citizens to avoid taking or spending money that they believe may be counterfeit.

What is Counterfeiting?

Counterfeiting happens when someone prints or produces fake money that is intended to look like the real thing. Counterfeiters create fake bills with certain characteristics to resemble real currency and deceive people into believing it is the same as genuine money. Counterfeit bills are generally not worth anything and can cause a lot of confusion.

Signs to Look for On a $20 Bill

When examining a $20 bill, there are tell-tale signs that can help identify if it’s a real bill or counterfeit. Being aware of and closely examining any $20 bills in your possession can help protect you from becoming a victim of counterfeiting.

Here are a few signs to look for on a $20 bill:

  1. Color

Counterfeit $20 bills typically have a dull coloring compared to the bright colors of a genuine bill. Additionally, on a real $20 bill, the green should look slightly metallic, while a fake will appear slightly pale. To further compare color, you can hold the $20 bill up to a light and look at the details, smoothness, and shades of the edges. If a $20 bill appears to have a washed-out green or a dull paperlike look, it is likely counterfeit.

  1. Security Thread

A genuine $20 bill will have a security thread running from top to bottom, which can be seen when the bill is held up to the light. It will usually say “USA 20” along the thread and it should be visible from both sides of the bill. If you cannot see the security thread or the text is not properly aligned, then it could be counterfeit.

  1. Watermark

A real $20 bill will contain a watermark, which is a faint portrait or symbol integrated into the paper, that is visible from both sides of the bill. The watermark should be in the same position as the portrait of the person featured on the bill. Fake $20 bills tend to have blurred or faint watermarks, or no watermark at all.

  1. Microprinting

A legitimate $20 bill will come with a very small type of writing called microprinting located on various parts of the bill. This includes the portrait, the Federal Reserve Seal, and the back of the bill. The microprinting should be sharp and distinct. If the microprinting is fuzzy or missing, it is a red flag that it could be counterfeit.

  1. Serial Number

The serial number of a real $20 bill should be a combination of eight numbers and letters that are printed in two places on the bill – front and back. The serial number should be the same in both places and should be printed in the same font and color. Fake $20 bills usually have unevenly spaced letters and numbers, or serial numbers that are repeated throughout bills.

  1. Raised Printing

One other way to identify a fake $20 bill is by feeling its texture. The edges of a bill are raised, creating a bumpy feel, while a fake will be unusually smooth. Holding the bill up to the light and feeling its texture can be a helpful way to spot a fake.

Why You Should Not Use a Counterfeit $20 Bill

Simply put, it is illegal to use any counterfeit money or try to pass it off as real. You can face criminal charges and be subjected to heavy fines or jailtime if found guilty. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the signs of a counterfeit $20 bill, and if you encounter any, to not use it and inform the authorities.

The Dangers of Possessing a Counterfeit $20 Bill

It’s important to know that not only can you be arrested for using counterfeit money, but also for possessing it. Penal codes in various states will have different punishments for anyone found in possession of fake money. These extremely serious consequences can be avoided by avoiding and getting rid of counterfeit money as quickly as possible.

Reporting a Counterfeit $20 Bill

If you stumble across a suspicious $20 bill and determine that it’s counterfeit, it’s best not to dispose of it just yet. Instead, take a closer look and report the issue to local law enforcement or the National Crime Prevention Council. You should also contact the U.S. Secret Service, which is tasked with handling investigations into counterfeiting.

By now it should be clear why it’s important to be aware of counterfeiting and what the signs are of a fake $20 bill. You should always stay alert and be sure to check your cash before spending. If you suspect that a $20 bill is counterfeit or is unusual in any way, do not use it, and instead inform the authorities as soon as you can. By following this advice, you can help prevent being charged with any criminal activity due to counterfeiting.