How Can I Spot a Fake?

Identifying counterfeit products and money are easier said than done. As production tactics advance every day, there’s always the risk that security measures haven’t adapted. This can leave you financially unstable, set back by the purchase of a big ticket counterfeit or physically harmed, so it’s best to always stay vigilant.

So what are the obvious signs to look for?

Consumer Goods

Identifying a regular product from a counterfeit almost always comes down to the feel. Brands put some serious effort into their looks, packaging and overall design. If you’re buying an $800 item, it’s going to feel like it’s worth that. Inspect the box for odd looking logos, misprints or color changes. It may also feel incredibly flimsy. When it comes to the product itself, make sure it feels sturdy. The contents should also match what’s described and feature information on safe uses or care.

Lack of quality control is the downfall of most counterfeits. The products will often be hastily made to ensure high volumes can be sold to offset manufacturing costs. If items even function as intended, they will feel off or suffer from poor performance.

At the end of the day, it comes down to how you feel. Would that expensive Apple Watch really be sold in a shop full of no name electronic gear on the side of the road? Does this handbag have unusual stitching? Is the label a different color than it should be on that pill bottle? If it looks fishy, ditch it. It’s not worth the risk. Always strive to buy direct from the manufacturer, but when all else fails trust your gut.


Luckily, you’re backed by the government when it comes to ensuring safety with currency. Touch still plays a heavy role here, but there are enough official measures in place that it’s very difficult for counterfeit money to enter the system in the first place.

Printing quality is the first indicator. High definition coloring makes even the most weathered bill’s portraits and text stand out from the background. Every line, color and shape will be distinct with no blurring or fading around the edges. The serial number will be perfectly even in positioning, with a uniform color matching the Treasury’s seal.

The composition of the paper is another major factor. Real dollar bills have red and blue hair-like fibers imbedded in the bill. Counterfeits will have printed on coloring, or dyed animal hair which can be felt on the surface. Iodine based markers will leave different color marks if the low quality fakes use starch in its ingredients.

The simplest way of spotting a fake is holding it up against the light. Watermarks will use the light to reveal images not visible under regular conditions. In the event a counterfeiter is skilled enough to replicate this effect, it will be very obviously poor quality.

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