Vol.1, No.2

How to spot fake twenty dollar bills

You can detect fake twenty-dollar bills and avoid being a victim of counterfeit by examining a bill's appearance, security features, and paper. Here's how.

Fake twenty dollar bills
Photo Credit: Stan Rohrer
In addition to one-dollar bills, twenty-dollar bills are the most commonly used bills in U.S. circulation. Three different versions of the twenty-dollar bill are currently in circulation.

The United States government issued the newest twenty-dollar bill in October of 2003. These new twenty-dollar bills have the most updated and advanced security features. These features will make it more difficult for counterfeiters to create fake bills, and help others to determine if twenty-dollar bills are authentic. Avoid becoming a victim of counterfeit by being aware of these features:

1) Color and Color-Shifting Ink. Look for added background colors that make the bill's design more complicated and difficult to counterfeit. Both sides of the bill will have peach, green, and blue colors in addition to the traditional black and green. At the right of President Andrew Jackson's portrait, the words "TWENTY USA" are printed in blue, and small yellow "20"'s are printed on the back of the bill surrounding the image of the White House.

Color-shifting ink is present at "20" in the bottom right corner of the bill. It will change from copper to green when you tilt the bill.

2.) Security Thread and Watermark. Two identifying features of the new twenty-dollar bill become visible on each side of the twenty-dollar bill when it is held up to the light. The security thread is a strip of plastic that is located towards the left side of the front of the bill. When held to the light, the thread with the words, "USA twenty" and an image of a flag become visible. Under ultraviolet light, this thread will have a green glow.

The watermark is a faint image of President Andrew Jackson's portrait that is on the right side of the front of the bill. Turn the bill over and you will see that it is visible on both sides of the bill.

3.) Portrait and Vignette, and Symbols of Freedom. On the newest twenty-dollar bill, the portrait of President Andrew Jackson is no longer enclosed in an oval and surrounded by fine lines. His portrait has been positioned a bit higher and his shoulders are now visible through the lower border.

The vignette, or vine leaves, tendril, and grape ornamentation, that surrounded the White House on the back of older twenty-dollar bills has been removed.

The symbol chosen to represent freedom on the twenty-dollar bill is the American eagle. On the front of the bill there is a large blue eagle in the background on the left side. This eagle is also another example of how the color blue has been added to the new bills. A smaller eagle can be found at the lower right on the front of the bill.

Some features, such as President Andrew Jackson's portrait, are present on all twenty-dollar bills. All bills should be printed on a United States currency paper. U.S. currency paper is made of seventy-five percent cotton and twenty-five percent linen with red and blue synthetic fibers distributed evenly throughout. This currency paper is durable and can aid in counterfeit detection. Retailers and other concerned individuals can purchase counterfeit detection pens to detect counterfeit bills. When the ink from one of these pens encounters a false bill, it reacts with the paper and changes color to indicate a counterfeit bill.

Familiarize yourself with the twenty-dollar bills currently in circulation and avoid being a victim of counterfeit by carefully examining each bill in order to verify that it has the correct appearance, security features, and is printed on U.S. currency paper.