How to spot a fake $50 note [UPDATED]

Our own Mark Beretta found himself having a note rejected at a shop recently because it was thought to be a counterfeit. In Australia, counterfeit notes are very rare.

You should not use the absence or presence of printed names below the portraits, or the order of the signatures, to determine whether a banknote is a counterfeit. In depth tips on how to identify a counterfeit banknotes and how to deal with suspect banknotes are available through the Reserve Bank website here (PDF) and are summarised below.

SPOTTING A FAKE NOTE- Feel the note: A genuine banknote is printed on polymer (plastic) and has a distinctive feel.
- Try to tear the note: It is difficult to start a tear along an edge of a genuine banknote.
- Feel the print: On a genuine banknote, slightly raised printing (dark ink) called intaglio, is used for the main design elements, such as the portraits.
- Look at the print: Genuine banknotes have multi-coloured, fine line patterns appearing on each side of the banknote.
- Hold the note up to the light: A genuine banknote has images that can only be seen when the banknote is held up to the light.
- Magnifying glass: A genuine banknote has microprint that can usually only be read with the aid of a magnifying glass
- The clear window: Genuine banknotes have a clear window – the area around the window is uniformly smooth to touch.
- Ultra-violet light: On genuine banknotes, the serial numbers (located on the back of the banknote) fluoresce under ultra-violet light. In all banknotes other than the $10, there is also an area on the back of the banknote that fluoresces.
- Fold the banknote(Federation $5 banknotes only): Federation $5 banknotes have a hidden ‘5’ below the small printed triangle, in the bottom right hand corner of the back of the banknote. The ‘5’ is revealed when that area of the banknote is viewed through the mauve coloured area of the clear window.

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  1. Martha02:01am Thursday 16th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Dark print, blurred print, blurred stars on clear window, no transparent '50' in the window, papery feel, tears, if crumpled doesn't un-straighten properly. If one pays even moderate attention they are easy to spot. The problem is that many people don't know they exist.

  2. Paperback01:30pm Monday 22nd July 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I was told that because under the signature which is under the portrait some of them have a printed name of said signature others do not, is this any indication of whether it's a counterfeit or not? I've seen counterfeit $100s before, and when you put the clear square plastic up onto the light, you'll see the denomination but only when you put it up on the light. I was told that the fake ones do not have this, is this true?

  3. Peter09:18pm Thursday 17th May 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    I was given two of these notes from the Commonwealth Bank Auto-Teller today. I was told there are so many of them that the banks do not care.