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How Do Counterfeit Money Detectors Work?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017  |  Michael

All you need to know about counterfeit money detectors

Need to be on your guard to spot money forgeries? Our Weigh has a wide range of counterfeit detectors from the simplest of banknote inspectors to advanced technology that can sniff out even the most sophisticated of forged cash.

Here’s more about how our counterfeit detectors work and why they’re so important for business owners

Why counterfeiting is a big issue

While the US dollar is the most counterfeited currency in the world, pound sterling is the leader per capita. The euro isn’t far behind, with the European Community estimating that counterfeiting has cost the EU at least €500 million since 2002.

In USA, counterfeiting is believed to cost businesses $200 billion per year, and the longer any denomination stays in circulation, the more counterfeits are produced. The best deterrent and detection method is to operate an active anti-counterfeit policy at your checkouts.

How banknotes are designed to prevent counterfeiting

Most central banks add a range of security features to banknotes, and it’s these features that counterfeit detectors look for.

These range from special treasury paper, made from cotton-linen blend or polymer – like the new £5 note released in September 2016 – to ultraviolet, magnetic, infrared, colour and holographic features.

Many currencies also deliberately create denominations of a unique size, thickness and weight to combat bleaching (printing a higher-value counterfeit on a low value note).

How ultraviolet detection works

Modern banknotes have ultraviolet (UV) ink with invisible fluorescent phosphors that can only be seen under UV light at a wavelength of 365 nanometres. Machines with UV detectors emit light at the correct wavelength to verify that the UV marks in the banknotes exist,

How magnetic detection works

Ferromagnetic ink is another anti-counterfeit measure used by central banks, where banknotes are printed with complex magnetic patterns that no human eye can see. Metallic thread may also be woven into notes.

Even manual metal detectors can discover a forgery that has no magnetic ink or thread, although more advanced machines such as the Safescan 155, 165, and 2600 use multiple magnetic sensors to identify specific thread and ink patterns.

How infrared detection works

Banknotes feature two types of Infrared (IR) inks: one which reflects IR light (glows), and another that absorbs it (turns black). Invisible to the naked eye, these can only be seen by IR detectors which let you see how a banknote responds to IR frequencies using a series of IR reflecting and IR absorbing sensors.

 

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