How Can I Tell if a Dollar is Real or Fake?

Can you differentiate between a real dollar bill and a fake?

This is a huge problem in Ecuador that could cost you serious money, and as soon as you exit the airport gates!

Many Americans have no idea how to differentiate a real bill from a fake until you spend some time abroad.

But it is critical you learn this skill as soon as possible because wrong doers know that foreigners usually can’t differentiate and are easy targets to slip fakes to.

The first thing to keep in mind is that real bills feel almost like fabric or cloth, fake bills, especially the poorly made ones feel and are made of paper.

Next, there is a watermark bills have on the right side, usually in the shape of a number or a face in the open space below where it says “United States of America”.

It is unlikely the bill is a fake if it has this watermark (that you can see if you hold it up to the light), but the better made fakes have a sticker placed where the watermark should be to give it the appearance that it has it.

A better way to tell if a bill is fake or not (and how the locals do it) is to scratch your fingernail across where the print of the face on the bill is (Abe Lincoln on a five for example), and see if the bill has a course texture, the real ones do.

Another good way to tell if a bill is fake or not for 10s, 20s or higher is to hold the bill up to the light and focus on the bottom right hand corner where there is a shiny number. As you move the bill in the light, if the number changes color, it is real, if it doesn’t noticeably change, it is a fake.

I personally would not accept bills higher than a 20 from anyone in Ecuador other than the bank.

Another caution I would give is to be careful getting change back from taxis, they are notorious for slipping fake bills to people late at night.

A third thing to keep in mind when doing business in Ecuador and selling something large, don’t accept checks from people (they usually will not have sufficient funds), and don’t accept cash in hand, it is better to request a direct bank deposit, where you give them your account number, they make the deposit, and then you know for sure the money is good.

Hate to sound paranoid, but in Ecuador, like in any developing country, certain precautions need to be taken sometimes.


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