8 Ways to Detect a Counterfeit $20 Bill: Pics & Video

Spotting A Fake $20

If you want to spot a fake $20 bill, use these methods:

  1. Check watermarks & color-shifting ink
  2. Use magnifying glass
  3. Use a light source
  4. Rely on common security features
  5. Check registration
  6. Give it a ‘feel’
  7. Bad-looking Ben?
  8. Take it to the bank

What if you had a twenty-dollar bill in your wallet and then accidentally took out that twenty to pay for something? What if when you got home, you realized that the twenty was a counterfeit? That could be a severe problem. Luckily, there are some ways to detect counterfeit bills.

Quick Video Guide:

How To Detect a Counterfeit $20 Bill

1. Watermarks and color-shifting ink


One way is to test the paper. Hold the banknote up and check for watermarks and color-shifting ink in the security strip and on the right side of the portrait. If you find any, it is likely real, but still scrutinize it because sometimes there are false features that are very accurate.

2. Use a magnifying glass

Use a magnifying glass

Another way is to hold the note up to the light or use a magnifying glass and check for finely detailed security features embedded in the note. The serial numbers should be clear and sharp. Every detail on a genuine banknote is crisp, with fine lines of denomination marks printed precisely where they should be.

3. Use a light source


You can also hold the money up to a light source and compare it to another $20. An actual $20 bill has “USA TWENTY” or “20 USA” written on the front in small green lettering that is sharp and clear, just like all fine details on a $20 money. If the lettering is fuzzy or blurry, it’s probably fake.

You can also hold the note up to a light source and compare it to another $20. An actual $20 banknote has “USA TWENTY” or “20 USA” written on the front in small green lettering that is sharp and clear, just like all fine details on a $20 bill. If the lettering is fuzzy or blurry, it’s probably not real.

4. Security features

You can also check the money for security features that will make your bill different from any other $20s you get in change; these include threads that glow pink when held up to an ultraviolet light source and ink that changes color when the money is tilted.

5. Registration

Detect a Counterfeit $20 Bill

False $20 bills often have poor registration, which means that the colors of the ink and images don’t line up as they should (the lines on an actual $20 bill will usually match perfectly). Also, counterfeiters frequently leave visible glue behind on their products; never accept any bill that looks like it has been glued together.

6. Use your fingers

use finger

Another way to detect a counterfeit $20 is by running your fingers along with the note and comparing it to a real one. If the lines on a genuine $20 note are sharp and clear, then it’s likely that you have a fake if they are blurry or poorly printed because most counterfeiters use cheap printing mechanisms to create their notes.

7. Observe Benjamin Franklins portrait

One final way to detect a false $20 is by looking closely at the portrait of Benjamin Franklin printed on the front of the bill. Actual money will have two things that are important in determining if it is false or not. First, there should be no evidence that the ink has run into the top of the folds on the bill, and secondly, there should be no evidence of a double image. Authentic $20 money has no problems with ink running into the top of the folds, and there is only one distinct portrait on each side. If you see any ink run or a doubling of Franklin’s picture, you’re likely holding a false $20.

8. Take it to the bank

If you have tried all the above steps and you are still not sure, then you can visit the bank. A bank attendant will easily check if your $20 bill is real and get your mind at ease.

What to Do If You Detect a Counterfeit Bill?

Is what you’ve got in your hand a counterfeit? If so, don’t panic. There are actions you can take to determine whether or not the bill is legitimate. Here’s how:

Call the Police

Call the Police

After discovering that a banknote is fake, please don’t pass it on to anyone else. Phony cash is like a hot potato: the longer you hold on to it, the more likely you will get burned.

Make sure that your family and friends know that if they receive any fakes as change, they should give them back as soon as possible.

Protect Yourself

If others pass counterfeit money around town before realizing it’s false, you could be blamed for their losses. When you return a fake banknote to its issuer, always ask to see the manager or supervisor. Tell him about the money passed in your presence and offer to turn the phony notes over to store security or police officers. Don’t accuse anyone of giving fake bills. From your point of view, it could be a mistaken identity.

Get It Checked

If you’re not sure about the authenticity of a note, hold onto it until you can check with an expert or pass it to someone who knows what to do if you detect a counterfeit note. If you’ve got a bi$20 that you’re confident is genuine, call your local bank and ask if it’s fake.

Replace It

If the money is good but slightly damaged or mutilated, ask for another and destroy the “bad” note. Federal law prohibits replacing mutilated notes with notes of greater denominations. A mutilated banknote is one that’s ripped, crumpled, perforated, or partially water-stained. If you find any of these problems with a note, destroy it and ask for another.

Report It

Suppose the bill is good but badly worn — soiled, old, marked, or torn — ask for another note from your issuer. Although old or badly worn notes aren’t valid, many banks will replace them if you ask. If a bank refuses to exchange a worn note, it should destroy it and give you a new one of the same denomination.


I hope this helped you never to get scammed again! The best way is always to check the watermark and security thread since they are hard to replicate. If you are still not sure, they will most likely let you take it to the bank, to be specific. If all else fails, do not hesitate to call the police station!

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