Greensboro, NC -- Real or fake? It's not what typically comes to mind when you think about your money, but it should.
In the past year, there have been reports of counterfeit money being passed off as real all over the Triad.
There have been cases in Randolph County, Eden, Greensboro, and most recently in High Point.
READ: High Point Police Investigate Counterfeit Bills At A Dozen Stores
There have been a dozen reports of counterfeit money being spent in High Point stores in the past few months.
WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke with a law enforcement officer to get you the information you need to make sure this counterfeit cash doesn't end up in your wallet.
"Anywhere from a grocery store to a gas station, to thrift stop, anywhere that money is accepted there is a chance for counterfeit activity to take place," explained Detective John Lowes, Guilford County Sheriff's Office.
Lowes says most counterfeit bills are copies.
He says crooks take real bills, copy them, and then pass them off as real.
"There are good counterfeiters and there are bad counterfeiters. The easiest way to do it, is to buy a printer at your local Wal-Mart or computer store and just take any denomination you which to make a counterfeit and make a copy of it," said Lowes.
To tell the difference between a real and a fake, you have to take a close look.
Real bills have color-changing ink. The colors should also be bright and crisp, not dull and faded. The green in the treasury seal and the green in the serial numbers will be the exact same color on a real bill.
The borders and pictures on real money are perfectly clear while counterfeit bills are often blurred.
Authorities say the easiest and quickest way to spot a fake bill is to feel it.
"They're going to touch the bill, that will be the first clue whether the bill is good or not. If it doesn't feel right to them, they need to inspect a little further," explained Lowes.
Another way to determine whether is bill is real is to look for a security thread. The $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills all have one. Under long-wave ultra violet lights, they each shine a distinct color.
$100s glow red, $50s glow yellow, $20s glow green, $10s glows orange and the $5 glows blue.
Lowes says fake bills are usually stiffer and on real bills, you can feel raised ink.
If you believe you've been handed a counterfeit bill, call police immediately and do not leave the store.
"When you receive money back from any person, just take the time to feel it, and once you feel it and it doesn't feel right, take a little extra time to inspect the note and see if its real our counterfeit," said Lowes.
Last year, more than $80,000,000 of counterfeit currency was spent in the United States. 3,500 people were arrested for the crime.
Lowes says counterfeit currency can be found anywhere cash is accepted. He warns, if you don't immediately notice you've received fake cash, you most likely won't get it reimbursed.
"Unfortunately, once you receive a counterfeit bill, whatever that denomination money is worth, or printed, that's what you lose," said Lowes.
The United States Secret Service advises people who believe they received a counterfeit bill to:
Do not return it to the passer.
Delay the passer if possible.
Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions, and the license plate numbers of any vehicles used.
Contact your local police department or United States Secret Service field office. These numbers can be found on the inside front page of your local telephone directory.
Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.
Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.
Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent.
The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background which is often too dark or mottled.
Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals
On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.
The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.
Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency.
WFMY News 2