Public Safety

Iowa City Police warn of counterfeit currency

Image of the counterfeit currency provided by the Iowa City Police Department. (Submitted photo)
Image of the counterfeit currency provided by the Iowa City Police Department. (Submitted photo)

Iowa City Police is warning residents and retailers about numerous recent incidents of counterfeit U.S. bills being used in Iowa City, according to a news release.

The release, sent by the city, states the bills are printed on poor quality paper and display bright red or pink Chinese characters printed on the front and back.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, there are three recommended steps retailers and businesses can take in order to check suspicious currency:

1. Feel the paper

The bill should feel slightly rough to the touch as a result of the printing process and the composition of the paper.

2. Tilt the note

Tilt the note to see the ink in the numbers on the lower right corner change color. On the current style of notes, the color should change from copper to green on denominations $10 and higher.

The current style $100 note includes a color-shifting bell in the inkwell and a 3-D security ribbon, which contains images of bells and “100s” that shift as you tilt the note.

3. Check with light

Hold the note to light to check that the watermark and security thread are visible from the front and back of the note. The security thread is in a different location on each denomination $5 and higher. The watermarks on the $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes should match the portrait on the front of the note. The $5 note has numeral 5 watermarks.

If you believe you have received a counterfeit bill, contact ICPD at 319-356-6800.


Additional information provided by the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Currency Education program can be found by visiting



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