In order to discourage counterfeiters and criminals from attempting to copy and use fake U.S. currency, American money incorporates several security features. Visual Capitalist, an online publisher that focuses on markets, technology, energy and the global economy, recently highlighted the security features that make up the $100 bill.
Key Security Features
There are six features on the $100 bill that help prevent counterfeiting and help protect our currency:
- Serial Numbers – Every U.S. $100 bill has a unique serial number that records its production data and helps keep track of how many bills are in circulation. There is also a EURion constellation on the $100 bill, a group of yellow rings that can be found near the serial number, that is only detectable by imaging software.
- Color-Changing Ink – Color-changing ink on the $100 changes color when looked at from different angles. This is accomplished by small metallic flakes that are part of the ink itself. All U.S. bills have a color-changing inked denomination in the lower right-hand corner. The $100 also has a color-changing Liberty Bell image on the currency.
- Micro Printing – Micro printed images placed on the $100 cannot be scanned or copied by printers, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. The $100 bill has the phrase “USA 100” micro printed in several places on the bill.
- Magnetic Ink – Magnetic ink, known as Intaglio Printing is used on each bill rather than using regular ink that is pressed onto paper. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), “ink is applied to the engraved plate. The excess ink is removed from the non-image area of the plate, thereby leaving ink only in the engraved recessed areas. Paper is then laid on top of the plate, and the two are pressed together under great pressure. As a result, the ink from the recessed areas is pulled onto the paper, creating a slightly raised finished image. When dried, the tactility feels like fine sandpaper.”
- Threads, Ribbons, and Watermarks – A clear, embedded security thread is vertically run through each bill. This thread can only be seen under UV light and contains microprinting that identifies the bill’s value. On $100 bills there is also a 3D ribbon that is placed in the center of the bill. The ribbon contains a pattern that alters slightly as it is moved. Watermarks are included on all bills over $5 and can be seen when light passes through the bill.
- Fiber Paper – American money is made up of 75% cotton and 25% linen and contains red and blue fibers throughout the bill to make counterfeiting more difficult.
While the amount of counterfeit bills in circulation is small, the BEP is always trying to improve the security of the U.S. currency and stay ahead of would-be criminals.