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Complete Guide: How to Verify the Authenticity of $100 USD Bills (2009 Series and Beyond)

Ensuring the legitimacy of a $100 USD bill is crucial, especially with the prevalence of counterfeit currency in circulation. The United States government has incorporated several security features in the design of the $100 bill after 2009 to deter counterfeiters. In this guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step process to check if a $100 bill is genuine, enabling you to protect yourself from counterfeit fraud.

Step 1: Feel the Paper Texture

Feel the Paper Texture

Legitimate U.S. currency is printed on high-quality paper that has a distinct feel. Start by running your fingers over the bill's surface. Genuine bills have a slightly raised texture due to the use of cotton and linen fibers. Counterfeit bills may feel smoother or have an unnatural texture.

Step 2: Inspect the Security Thread

Inspect the Security Thread

Hold the $100 bill up to the light to reveal a thin, embedded security thread running vertically through the bill. The thread should be visible as a continuous line with the text "USA $100" and small stars printed along it. Counterfeit bills may lack this security feature or show a solid line without any text or stars.

Step 3: Check the Color-Shifting Ink

Check the Color-Shifting Ink

Tilt the bill back and forth to observe the color-shifting ink on the numeral "100" in the lower-right corner on the front. Legitimate bills will change color from copper to green when viewed from different angles. Counterfeit versions often lack this ink feature, showing a static color.

Step 4: Examine the Watermark

Examine the Watermark

Hold the bill up to the light again, but this time, look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin to the right of his larger portrait. This watermark should be visible without any printed text overlapping it. Counterfeit bills may have a blurry or missing watermark.

Step 5: Verify the 3D Security Ribbon

Verify the 3D Security Ribbon

On the redesigned $100 bill (Series 2009 and beyond), there is a vertical 3D security ribbon on the front. Tilt the bill to see the bells change to 100s as you move it. Additionally, the bells and 100s should appear to move in opposite directions as you tilt the bill. Counterfeiters may struggle to replicate this effect accurately.

Step 6: Look for the Color-Shifting Bell

On the same 3D security ribbon, there is a copper bell that changes to green when the bill is tilted. Counterfeit bills might not exhibit this color-changing feature or could display a more rudimentary version.

Step 7: Validate the Microprinting

Validate the Microprinting

Using a magnifying glass, examine the $100 bill for tiny letters around Benjamin Franklin's portrait, the Independence Hall, and the quill. Authentic bills have crisp and clear microprinting, while counterfeit bills may have blurry or indistinct text.

Step 8: Check the Red and Blue Threads

In the fabric of the genuine $100 bill, you should find randomly spaced red and blue threads scattered throughout. Counterfeiters often struggle to replicate this feature accurately, resulting in uniform or missing threads.

Step 9: Look at the Serial Numbers

Look at the Serial Numbers

Each authentic $100 bill will have a unique combination of serial numbers printed in two locations on the bill. One is located in the lower left corner on the front, and the other is in the upper right corner. Compare these two serial numbers and make sure they match exactly. Mismatched or oddly spaced serial numbers are potential indicators of a counterfeit bill.