3 Trends in Counterfeit Detection

Posted by: wittenbach Comments: 0

Counterfeit bills are not a thing of the past, because neither is cash. Despite the sheer volume of digital transactions, card payments, and even RFID and near-field communication contactless payment systems, cash transactions are still going strong. Almost 6 out of 10 Americans say that at least some of their weekly purchases are made with cash. While it’s true that more and more transactions are going digital, cash transactions still play a huge role in everyday life.

The popularity of cash transactions means there is still a risk of counterfeit cash. Digital transactions such as card transactions or bank transfers may pose their own risks, but safeguards and alerts have been put in place to minimize risk. With counterfeit bills, it is  not always so easy to detect a fraudulent transaction.

However, there are a few ongoing trends in counterfeit detection.

1. Built-In Security Features

Counterfeit detection starts with counterfeiting prevention, which begins with the printing process.

Even in 2023, counterfeit bill detection still poses a problem for financial institutions. Fortunately, there are ways to detect them.

Over the past couple of decades, the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) has implemented a variety of new security features, built directly into the bills themselves. This has given each bill a security boost. 

In 2013, they revised the $100 bill, incorporating two advanced security features. One is a 3D security ribbon. This thin blue ribbon bisects the bill vertically. 

When the bill is tilted back and forth, the 100s and bell icons on the security ribbon move side-to-side. If you tilt the bill side-to-side, the 100s and bell icons move up and down.

This ribbon is woven through the center of the bill, not printed on it, making it difficult to duplicate on a fake bill.

The second upgrade is the Bell Inkwell, which shifts in color when tilting the bill. The inkwell shifts in color from copper to green, making the bell inside the inkwell appear to disappear. 

These are additional security features and do not replace previous security features, such as color-shifting ink, unique serial numbers, a Federal Reserve System seal, and more. 

According to the Federal Reserve, the built-in security features of each bill are still the best way to determine if a banknote is genuine or not, so it is imperative that any cash handling staff understands the security features of each bill and knows what to look for. 

2. Continual Staff Training

Even in 2023, counterfeit bill detection still poses a problem for financial institutions. Fortunately, there are ways to detect them.

It may not be the most high-tech way of spotting counterfeits, but a properly trained staff is still a frontline defense against counterfeit bills. 

Employees need to be aware of any potential issues with the money they handle. This is regardless of how the person handing over the money looks like (i.e. physical appearance, dress, or other first impressions they may give), the denomination of bills, and other factors.

Even if a customer passes a fraudulent bill to their financial institution, the customer may not even be aware that they are handing over any counterfeit cash. That’s because of the sheer number of times a single bill changes hands. A $1 or $5 bill may exchange hands on average 110 times per year. By the time a single bill is finally retired, it’s likely to have facilitated hundreds of transactions over the years. A single counterfeit bill may have begun circulation many transactions ago.

However, having your staff inspect every single bill would be incredibly time-consuming and labor-intensive, which is where our next trend comes in.

3. Using Advanced Machines to Spot Counterfeiting

Even in 2023, counterfeit bill detection still poses a problem for financial institutions. Fortunately, there are ways to detect them.

Aside from continual staff training and built-in bill security features, there has been a growing tend in retail, gaming, and entertainment spaces to invest in cash automation and cash discriminators, in order to handle cash quickly and detect counterfeit bills. Investing in the right equipment is a great way to protect your financial institution from counterfeit money. Even the best, most trained staff can have difficulty detecting a counterfeit bill via touch or sight. When handling large amounts of cash on a daily basis, this problem is magnified even further. 

That is why there’s been a shift to detecting counterfeiting via machines. While there are standalone counterfeit cash detectors, these machines only serve one purpose: detecting counterfeit bills. They don’t safely store currency or reduce cash-in-transit, unlike other devices.

Instead, financial institutions need to look at other machines that can detect fake bills and serve other functions. A currency discriminator, TCR, ATM, or ITM machine with automated cash handling is capable of accepting currency deposits while identifying fraudulent currency. These machines are capable of scanning bills to identify secure features such as the paper quality, 3D security ribbon, and serial numbers, and to check if they are authentic. When you purchase a currency discriminator, ITM, or ATM with these capabilities, you are getting more than counterfeit detection.

ATM or ITM for Counterfeit Bill Detection?

The question now becomes, ATM or ITM? Which is right for my business? Ultimately the unique needs of your financial institution will determine which device is right for your location.

An ITM is costlier but offers more advanced transaction support than an ATM. However, either an ATM or ITM with automated cash handling will be able to check for counterfeit banknotes. If you decide to go with an ITM, many offer video-assisted transactions, where a bank employee can safely assist customers remotely. This human element could serve as a further deterrent for anyone who would knowingly pass a counterfeit bill.

You may also want to consider a TCR or Teller Cash Recycler, which provides multiple opportunities to check for counterfeit bills. A TCR sits near a teller and accepts cash deposits, while also screening for counterfeit bills. A TCR allows your tellers to see incoming cash deposits for themselves, while also providing its own bill screening service, thus decreasing the risk of a counterfeit deposit.

Get Help with Counterfeit Bill Detection

If you are not sure which devices are right for your financial institution’s needs, Wittenbach can help. For close to five decades, we have helped our clients better serve their customers and transform their financial institutions with our security, managed services, and cash automation solutions.

Our cash automation solutions such as the Hyosung Innovue MS500 TCR combine the benefits of a bill counter, small storage vault, cash dispenser, and counterfeit bill detector into one device. 

Or if you are looking for a cash discriminator, the Cassida PRO’s Zeus has a high counting speed of approximately 1,000 bills per minute, without stopping for counterfeit bills. Instead, counterfeit bills are deposited in the upper pocket, allowing for closer scrutiny later by an employee.

Visit our cash automation page for more on cash automation machines and how they can help detect counterfeit bills or to schedule a consultation to learn more about our TCR offerings.