If you have just fallen in love with coin collecting, then you are likely reading up on what coins are valuable and how to begin building a great collection. However, it is also very important to learn how to spot a counterfeit coin so you don't buy that great coin to complete a set or trade one of your favorite coins to obtain it and then find out later that it is is a fake. While you shouldn't let the fact that there are counterfeit coins being sold suck the fun out of coin collecting, you should buy and trade cautiously. Read on to learn three tips for ensuring that counterfeit coins don't end up in your collection. 

1. Learn Which Coins Are Known to Have Counterfeits Circulating

There are certain coins that collecting experts warn coin traders and buyers to purchase with caution due to the fact that counterfeits of the specific coins have been found in circulation. Trade dollars are believed to be the most extensively produced counterfeit coins, and the most common telltale sign that a trade dollar is counterfeit is the presence of lumps, depressions, and raised lines on the coin. 

A counterfeit 1983-O Morgan Silver Dollar was also recently located, and coin experts found it easy to detect as a counterfeit due to obvious differences in design from the authentic version. 

Before buying or trading for any coin, it is a good idea to perform a quick internet search to see if there have been counterfeits spotted by professionals or traders and how those counterfeits differ from the authentic coins, if there are counterfeits out there. If there are no known counterfeits, then compare the coin you are considering purchasing to a clear photo of both sides of an authentic coin to check for any obvious differences. 

2. Use a Strong Magnet to Detect Additional Metals in Silver Coins

Dimes, quarters, and half dollars minted before or during 1964 are made of 90 percent silver. Since silver is not magnetic, you can detect some counterfeit silver coins by seeing if they stick to a strong magnet, such as a neodymium magnet. While not all "filler" metals used to produce counterfeit coins will stick to the magnet, if the coin contains steel or iron, it will stick to the magnet very well. 

While this test will not detect every counterfeit silver coin, it can help you "weed out" a few and improve your chances of keeping your collection counterfeit-free. 

3. Ask the Seller to Have the Coin Appraised Before Your Purchase or Trade

Collector's coin appraisals are very affordable and easy today, and all you or a seller would have to do to have a coin appraised is find a company that appraises coins and send the coin into them. They will appraise it to not only determine if it is genuine, but also grade it using the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale so you can know exactly what it is worth before purchasing or trading for the coin. 

The coin grader gives the coin a rating that consists of either just a number or a letter and a number. The number scale ranges from 1, which means the coin is in poor condition (yet not counterfeit) to 70, which means it is in absolutely mint condition. Proof coins are also designated with a "Pr" before the number rating, and mint state coins will have an "MS" before the number grade. 

Once the coin is determined to be genuine and graded, you or the coin seller will also have the option to have the coin "slabbed," which means placing it in a protective case that will have the coin's grade displayed on it. This can be very beneficial, because if you were to ever decide to sell or trade the coin in the future, you would not have to worry about having it appraised again due to it already being sealed and labeled with its grade. 

If the coin seller does not want to pay for the coin to be appraised before selling or trading it to you, then offer to reimburse them for the small expense as long as the coin is determined to be genuine. 

If you are new to coin collecting and trading, then realize that some counterfeit coins may be in circulation. Don't let worrying about counterfeits suck the fun out of coin trading for you, but instead just know the signs that a coin is counterfeit, and, when purchasing or trading for expensive, rare coins, make sure to have it appraised before accepting the deal to have peace of mind that it is genuine.