Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Recently I purchased a coin that I now have reason to believe may be counterfeit. What should I do?

Contact the dealer or person from whom you purchased the coin and inform the seller that you believe the coin is counterfeit and state your reasons. If the seller does not accept your claim that the coin is fake, you may have to identify a mutually agreeable expert authenticator to inspect the coin and render an opinion or submit the coin for authentication to a recognized third-party professional grading service. If the coin is determined to be counterfeit, seek a refund from the seller. Reputable dealers will not knowingly sell a counterfeit and will refund your money, per terms of the original sale. If you purchased your coin online via eBay or from a seller on another online auction site, use the site’s function for reporting the counterfeit and requesting a refund. Beware that purchasing coins from online auction sites located outside the United States or sites such as;, and and others that allow fulfillment directly from countries such as China increases the probability the items you purchase will be counterfeit.

If your coin is in a third-party grading holder, it is possible to verify the authenticity of the holder and the coin in the holder.

NGC, PCGS and ANACS provide the ability at their respective web sites to verify the holder and coin in it. In order to verify at PCGS and ANACS, enter the certification number listed on the holder. NGC also asks for the grade. Use these direct links:

NGC Certification

ANACS Certification Verification

PCGS (See CERT Verification on Home Page)

If you find that your coin and holder do not match the images at the grading service’s web site, immediately contact the grading service. You may be asked to send the holder in your possession to the grading service for further inspection. It is important for the grading service to see new generations of fake holders in order to identify the diagnostics. Also, check with the grading service regarding its policy for confiscating and/or destroying counterfeits of its holders.

Does a third-party professional grading service confiscate a coin it determines to be counterfeit?

No. Grading services are not law enforcement agencies. A grading service renders a professional opinion and returns the coin to the owner with a written statement advising it believes the submitted item is not genuine. It is like a coin dealer being offered a coin or banknote, which upon inspection the dealer concludes is counterfeit. The dealer should advise the owner of his opinion and should not purchase the coin. Neither coin dealers nor grading services have any authority to “confiscate” any counterfeit coin, bar, or bank note. They should, however, advise the owner to turn the counterfeit over to U.S. Secret Service. If the Secret Service is not readily available, the counterfeit should be turned over to local police, who will forward to the Secret Service.

Years ago, I unwittingly purchased some counterfeit U.S. coins. I still have them. What should I do with them?

It is illegal to knowingly possess, buy, or sell counterfeit U.S. coins. You should turn the counterfeit(s) over to your nearest local law enforcement officer or to the nearest U.S. Secret Service field office.

How do I find the U.S. Secret Service field office nearest to me?

To locate your nearest U.S. Secret Service Field Office, use this link:

U.S. Secret Service Field Office Enter your City and State or your Zip Code and click on Go.

What if I want to keep the counterfeit U.S. and foreign bullion coins I have acquired for “educational purposes” so that I can help others to understand what the fakes look like and help them avoid purchasing counterfeits?

There is no provision in U.S. law that allows anyone (citizen or institution) to knowingly possess or maintain a collection of counterfeit U.S. coins, foreign bullions coins, precious metals bars or paper money.

Does ACEF want the counterfeits of U.S. and foreign bullion coins I have?

ACEF has no authority to receive or hold counterfeits. The U.S. Secret Service is the final repository for all counterfeits. Counterfeit items may be turned over to the U.S. Secret Service directly or through your local police, but ultimately, they end up with the U.S. Secret Service.

I contacted my local police in order to turn over the counterfeit coins in my collection. However, they told me they don’t deal with counterfeit coins and paper money because counterfeiting is against federal law so its up to federal agents to enforce.

Educating law enforcement, especially local and state agencies, about the threats posed by counterfeit coins and paper money is a major and long-term educational process. You may encounter reluctance from local and state law enforcement to respond to or investigate counterfeiting. Some states, but not all, have counterfeiting laws that parallel federal counterfeiting laws. States and localities without counterfeiting laws have criminal deception by fraud statutes and ordinances applicable in counterfeiting cases. As ACEF begins the educational process, you may encounter barriers when these cases are first reported to local law enforcement. Do not be discouraged. If you encounter problems with any level of law enforcement refusing to investigate counterfeiting, please report it to Doug Davis

I am a coin dealer. What should I do if a customer walks into my shop and attempts to sell me counterfeits of U.S. and foreign coins or precious metals bars?

Advise the person that you believe the coin, bar, or bank note is counterfeit. Explain why you believe the item is counterfeit. Also, advise the person offering the counterfeit that it is illegal to knowingly possess, buy, or sell counterfeits.

Should I try to confiscate the counterfeit item(s)?

Neither a coin dealer nor a collector has any authority to “confiscate” any counterfeit coin, bar, or bank note.

What if the person says he/she will give the coin or counterfeit item(s) to me?

It is illegal to knowingly possess counterfeit U.S. and foreign bullion coins, precious metals bars and/or bank notes. Advise the person to turn the counterfeit(s) over to the nearest local law enforcement officer or to the nearest U.S. Secret Service field office. NOTE: Some people may not be comfortable in contacting and voluntarily surrendering counterfeit coins or paper money to law enforcement. If you are a dealer and are prepared to accept the risk, you may accept the responsibility if you have no problem forwarding the counterfeit(s) to the nearest Secret Service office at your earliest convenience. Record basic information about the coin (design type, date, mint mark, etc.) and take a photograph if possible. Ask for the owner’s name, address, and contact information. (Obtain photocopy of driver’s license or other form of ID, if possible.) Provide the owner with a copy of the recorded information; date and sign in the owner’s presence. Place a copy of the recorded information and the counterfeit item(s) in an envelope and seal in the person’s presence. State to the owner or the person who provide the item(s) to you that you will turn over the fake item(s) and the information to law enforcement. Before you accept responsibility for turning over counterfeits on behalf of other people, it is advisable to develop a relationship with your local police, sheriff, and Secret Service field office to make this process go smoothly.

Should I take pictures of the counterfeit item(s) and of the person/people trying to sell them to me?

SAFETY. SAFETY, SAFETY! If possible, safely and discretely take pictures of the person/people offering the counterfeit items and obtain as much identifying information as possible, including to the extent possible, driver’s license information (e.g., photocopy or picture), a description of the person (write it down as soon as you can) and the make, model, and color of vehicle the person is driving. Most important, write down the vehicle license plate number! Also, take pictures of the coins or counterfeit items and holders, if in grading service holders. NOTE: People tend to get upset when you try to take pictures, so be careful! Counterfeiters are criminals and potentially dangerous. Your first concern should always be your safety! Contact local law enforcement in your area and ask for guidance on how to proceed if you suspect someone is attempting to sell you counterfeits. Be pro-active so you will know what to do when the situation presents itself.

How does ACTF’s Expert Network assist law enforcement?

ACTF’s Expert Network, comprised of more than 90 knowledgeable volunteers across the country, assists law enforcement at all levels to identify counterfeits seized during investigations. Within the Expert Network are individuals qualified to testify in court when charges are filed against those apprehended in the act of importing or selling counterfeit coins in the United States. Another area in which the ACTF plays a key role is developing educational and training materials for law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.