CC-BY-SA-4.0 — Wikimedia Commons

Counterfeit Money and Workers: What Happens if a Bad Bill Crops Up?

Can they take the money out of your pay?

Amy Sterling Casil
4 min readNov 17, 2021


I don’t handle cash directly much any more, but for businesses that do, the issue of counterfeit cash is a real problem.

And, there are many sides to the story.

The first side is the business person’s side. Nothing hurts more than for a small business to be paid in phony cash. They’re out their hard work and services, or they have fixed someone’s vehicle or served meals for free, all the while losing out on the opportunity to serve paying customers.

The second side is the employee’s side. They’re responsible for accepting payment and verifying if bills are real. Just about every convenience store and gas station has counterfeit money pens. Some have UV lamps that can detect the fake money. And, according to Loss Prevention, there are eight other ways to tell if a bill is real or not.

If an employee accepts a counterfeit bill in payment and it’s later shown to be fake, some employers will take the money out of the worker’s paycheck. See below:

Counterfeit attempts, successes, and Cartman/South Park-like failures have been around as long as there’s been cash money. And, you may be curious: who is making all this funny money and where does it come from? It turns out: a lot comes from Peru. And if you were wondering — ATM machines don’t usually check for counterfeit bills. They are perfectly capable of dispensing counterfeit cash to unsuspecting customers.

However — looking at what the young employee asked: is it legal for the employer to take the $100 out of the workers’ paycheck?

The laws vary from state to state. In California, no — it’s not legal to do this — under any circumstances. Federally, an employer can’t make this type of deduction if it lowers the worker’s pay below minimum wage. In Florida right now, that minimum is $10/hour. Sunshine state voters passed a $15/hr minimum wage in February 2021. In most states, employers are required to get an employee’s permission — in writing — before any…



Amy Sterling Casil

Over 500 million views and 5 million published words, top writer in health and social media. Author of 50 books, former exec, Nebula nominee.