Despite the wide use of different payment methods, cash still remains one of the top most ways to pay for products and services. This is due to several reasons. This includes the ease and anonymity that cash provides and the fact that many people have a high level of confidence in it as a medium of exchange. This makes it crucial to safeguard cash, so that the public does not lose its confidence in it. Money counterfeiting puts the public’s trust in money at risk and that is why it is important that counterfeiting be decisively dealt with.

There has been a steady increase in money counterfeiting in the US since 1997. This was due to the increase in computer generated money. Since it was easy for individuals to acquire computers, inkjet printers and good quality color scanners, which scan high quality images, the threshold of getting into money counterfeiting was lowered. So good are the computer generated currencies that the Envisions Corporation once had as its motto ‘ No other scanner can scan a hundred bucks and capture the hidden detail as well as ours’. The result of this was a lot of individuals were able to manufacture large amounts of cash individually and anonymously.

According to The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 17% of the people who are involved in money counterfeiting are young people. Most of them are technologically savvy and they only need less than $ 1,000 to acquire all the equipment they need to get started in this line of business.  Most of the notes that are counterfeited are $ 20 bills as these are usually in large circulation in the US. Also, due to their lower denomination, most cashiers and tellers do not scrutinize$ 20 bills as keenly as they would scrutinize larger denomination notes. This makes it easier to pass off fake $ 20 bills.

One of the major reasons that has made it difficult for the secret service to completely wipe out money counterfeiting is due to the fact that one third of counterfeit money originates from outside the US. Some of the countries where large amounts of fake US dollars are manufactured include Colombia, which manufactures 80% of all foreign US counterfeit money. Counterfeiters can also be found in Iraq and Russia. The qualities of the bills made are so good, making it harder for the public to detect the fake notes. Dollar bills made in Russia replicate all but one security feature, the magnetic ink pattern, which genuine bank notes have.

Another factor that has made it difficult for the secret service to effectively stop money counterfeiting is the fact that a lot of people print out paper money from their homes. These people then proceed to pass out these notes in small retail stores near them. This has made it difficult for the secret service to seize large amounts of cash in one swoop, like they used to do in the past when offset printing was used by counterfeiters.

There are several things that banks can do to help in combating counterfeit money. This includes researching some of the best and most modern ways of designing currencies so as to make it harder for counterfeiters to reproduce money. This will deter a lot of people from counterfeiting money. For instance, according to The Huffington Post, the use of plastic money in Canada and Australia has seen counterfeiting rates drop by 74% in these countries in 2015. Banks can also research on emerging threats that constantly come up when it comes to money reproduction.

Banks should also create awareness among members of the public about money counterfeiting and how to identify fake money. Part of this includes learning about currency security features that are used with both United States and foreign currencies. While doing so they can also teach the public on what to do when they come across fake money. As a result of such campaigns, it will be harder for counterfeiters to pass off fake money to other people.

Banks can also cooperate with law enforcement agencies to help stamp out counterfeiting. This is by alerting the police whenever they come across fake money. Banks can also provide expert witness in court cases that deal with money counterfeiting which will help in the prosecution of guilty parties.

Alex Reichmann is a counterfeit detection expert and CEO of iTestCash. Helping businesses protect themselves against counterfeit currency started as a family affair, with Alex’s grandfather contributing to the creation of Dri Mark’s counterfeit detector pen. iTestCash works with businesses around the U.S. and abroad.

Written by Alex Reichmann