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A customer hands over a $50 note to a cafe worker

8 tips to help you spot fake banknotes

If you accept cash payments, make sure you know how to spot fake banknotes so you don’t find yourself out of pocket.

Counterfeit money, in particular fake $100 notes, can often creep into circulation in particular during festive and holiday periods.

Remember: you’re within your rights to refuse to accept a banknote If you suspect it's counterfeit.

Tips to spot fake banknotes

  • Genuine notes are made of plastic and will bounce back if scrunched in your hand.
  • Check the clear window, it should be part of the banknote, not an addition.
  • You shouldn’t be able to scratch the white image on the window of $20, $50 or $100 notes.
  • When you hold the banknote to the light, you should see the Australian Coat of Arms.
  • Look for the ‘star’; diamond-shaped patterns are printed inside a circle on both sides of the banknote. When you hold it up to the light, the patterns should line up perfectly to form a seven-pointed star.
  • The printing should be sharp. Check for irregularities such as less clearly defined patterns, and thicker or thinner lines, or colour differences.
  • If you hold the note under a magnifying glass, you should see tiny, clearly defined words.
  • Overall, genuine banknotes don’t fluoresce, apart from the serial number and special patches that do fluoresce under UV light.

When checking a banknote inspect a range of features from the list above, don’t rely on just one or two.

What to do if you suspect a banknote is fake

If you have accepted a banknote that you think could be a fake, follow these steps:

  1. Handle it as little as possible and store it in an envelope.
  2. Note all relevant information such as how it came into your possession and report the matter to the police.
  3. If you’re photographing the note, ensure that you include the serial number.

Learn more about counterfeit note detection on the Reserve Bank of Australia website.

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