It’s about time but Canada will be moving to a plastic/polymer bill based instead of paper/linen based bills in 2011 or so. Back in 2004 counterfeit bills peaked (“The prevalence of counterfeiting in Canada and its impact on direct victims and society“) and prior to that the majority of it was $50 and $100 bills being counterfeited by one guy (Wesley Weber) who managed to put enough fake $100 bills into circulation that even now in 2010 most retailers won’t accept $100 bills.
Probably the easiest way to defeat counterfeiters is the move to plastic/polymer notes, this is a combination of the ease of checking the bills (the feel/etc. will be entirely different than current notes, even in a dark nightclub a waitress should be able to tell the difference) and the difficulty in getting the stock and printing on it (at least for now….). I remember one local store that had a counterfeit %40 pinned to the wall, it was literally 20 lb copier paper printed in an ink jet and looked more like monopoly money than real currency (the reds were saturated and bloby).
But in the meantime we’ll have to stick to the old fashioned methods of checking currency (security strip embedded in the paper, micro print, reflective metal patch, etc.). For more information on the Canadian security features see the Bank of Canada page and for American money check out newmoney.gov (way higher production values!).
One thing you will note is a common and consistent set of features used to prevent counterfeiting of banknotes:
- embedded metal strip in the printing stock with the value of the bill printed on the strip (prevent people from running these off on a copier or bleaching a $20 bill and reprinting it as a $100 bill)
- metal reflective patches that refract light differently depending on the angle you view it at (like a soap bubble)
- micro print, and lots of it (in the background, in the numbers, on the faces, etc.)
- raised ink (and embedded braille dots for the blind)
- water marks (printing embedded in the paper as opposed to on the paper)
- UV fluorescence under black light
- iodine pens, since bills are mostly linen and not paper iodine doesn’t mark the bill significantly
Hopefully this will inspire and encourage web browsers and other software makers to come up with a common set of features to help users identify the legitimacy of online web sites (my next post).