fake money vs real money l Moneymax

Five hundred counterfeit banknotes with a notional value of PHP 480,000―that’s the amount of fake money that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) seized from January to September last year.[1] And if you account for the holiday season, there could be more.

While the BSP is doing its best to remove fake money from circulation, fraudsters are coming up with more sophisticated schemes to have their victims unwittingly accept it. As such, there will always be a chance that counterfeit cash will land in your hands. Moreover, telling a fake banknote from a legit one can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t know what to check.

A fake bill is money lost. To keep yourself from sustaining such a loss, we’ve come up with a simple guide on how to identify fake money vs. real money. We’ve also covered what you’ll need to do if you receive fake banknotes.

Read more: The History of Money in the Philippines

Ways to Determine Fake Money vs. Real Money

When you know what to look for and where to look, you can easily determine fake money vs. real money. The BSP has come up with a three-step inspection method called FEEL, LOOK, and TILT. This method is detailed below together with two additional handy tips.  

1. Feel

fake money vs real money -  feel

In this step, you’re supposed to feel a note’s tactile cues that will prove its authenticity. Here are the things you need to check:

  • Security Paper – The Philippine banknote should feel different from the usual paper. After all, it’s primarily made of abaca fiber. It shouldn’t be exaggeratedly smooth. 
  • Embossed Prints – The note features embossed elements, so you’ll feel a variation of textures across its surface.   
  • Tactile Marks – A few pairs of congruent lines on either side of the note are marks that help visually impaired people to identify and differentiate bills. Furthermore, these marks are a sign that your note is authentic.

2. Look

How can you tell the difference between real and fake money? You can tell the difference of fake money vs. real money by looking at the unique visual features of a note. Here’s what you need to check:

  • Watermark – This is basically the “apparition” of the faces featured on the bill. If you hold the note under the light, you’ll see these shadow images on the right side.
  • Security Fiber – Security fibers are the thin yet visible lines that are randomly spread on the front and back of the note. They should come in blue and red.
  • Asymmetric Serial Number – At the lower left and upper right sides of the note, you’ll  find the serial number. This should bear one to two prefix letters and six to seven digits. The font increases in size and thickness.
  • See-Through Mark – At the lower right corner of the note, you’ll notice a truncated Babaylan script. Hold the money against the light, and the truncated part will be visible, revealing the entirety of the script. The said script means PILIPINO.

3. Tilt

Continue your visual inspection by tilting your money. Doing this will reveal features that aren’t found on fake notes.

  • Security Thread – For smaller notes like PHP 20 and PHP 50, this is the vertical line that runs across the width of the bill. This line becomes visible when you view your bill against the light.  For larger notes, such as PHP 100, PHP 200, PHP 500, and PHP 1,000, the line appears as a series of metallic dashes featuring the note’s value and the text “BSP.”
  • Concealed Numerical Value – At the upper right corner of the bill, you’ll see a smaller version of the portrait. Tilt the note at a 45-degree angle, and you’ll see the money’s value over the portrait.
  • Optically Variable Ink (for PHP 1,000 notes) – The money’s value printed on the lower right corner of the note should not be only embossed; its color should also change from green to blue when you view it at different angles.  A fake 1000-peso bill doesn’t have this feature.
  • Optically Variable Device Patch (for PHP 500 and PHP 1,000 notes) – The reflective foil printed on the left side of the note’s portrait has a hidden visual cue. To check if it’s a fake 500 peso bill or not, tilt your PHP 500 note. You’ll see an image of the Blue-naped parrot. For the PHP 1,000 note, you’ll see an image of a clam with the South Sea pearl.
  • Enhanced Value Panel (for PHP 500 and PHP 1,000 notes) – For newer notes, the numerical value on the left side of the bill should have a color-shifting effect.

4. Try Damaging the Bill

fake money vs real money - Try Damaging the Bill

Rub some water on the paper bill. If the color smudges and the bill starts tearing, it could be a sign that the money you have is fake. Remember, the notes are not made of regular paper, so they shouldn’t come apart even if they’re exposed to water. Also, try to scratch the bill. If the printing smears or shows any sign of damage, it could be counterfeit.

5. Consider the Changes in Design

From time to time, the BSP releases new money designs. In every release, you should pay attention to the new elements and features of the notes.

For instance, the 2022 design of the PHP 1,000 note will feature the Philippine Eagle instead of the country’s World War II Heroes. This new design will be part of the limited polymer or plastic bills.[2] So, if you receive a PHP 1,000 note featuring the Philippine Eagle that’s not printed on polymer, chances are it’s a fake 1,000 peso bill.

Read more: Compare the Best Savings Accounts Online in the Philippines!

What to Do If You Receive Fake Peso Bills

fake money vs real money - What to Do If You Receive Fake Peso Bills

Just received counterfeit money? You can submit it to the BSP. Thankfully, the whole process only involves three steps:

1. Determine Your Case Classification

The BSP recognizes two categories of problematic currency claims: simple and highly technical.[3]

Simple cases include demonetized currencies and damaged authentic notes whose value can still be recognized, among others. Highly technical cases include claims that require the opinion of an expert. Counterfeit money falls under this category.

Read more: What to do With Your Old Banknotes

2. Go to the BSP Office or Branch

Gather your notes and head to the nearest BSP office or branch. Since your case is a highly technical one, it will need an in-depth inspection. Thus, it will be forwarded to the Currency Issue and Integrity Office (CIIO) at the BSP-Quezon City branch.

3. Fill Out an Application Form

Submit your duly accomplished application form to the attending BSP teller. Remember that the processing of highly technical cases, such as fake money in the Philippines, takes 20 working days from the date of receipt by the BSP.

Read more: The BSP: How to Save on Bank Fees and Charges

How to Avoid Fake Money

It’s important to note that it’s not just the scammers who perpetuate the existence of fake notes in circulation. Unwitting friends and customers may hand you counterfeit money, too. Avoid receiving it while educating someone who unknowingly hands it to you. Here are some tips:  

1. Inspect Your Cash As Soon As You Receive It

fake money vs real money - inspect it

Using the FEEL, LOOK, TILT method, inspect the money right after your family, friend, or customer gives it to you. Don’t let people pressure or rush you into accepting the cash right away. Even if you’re in a hurry, check at least two or more security features of each banknote that you receive.

In case it’s too late to inspect the banknotes, just compare them with other notes that you know are genuine. Side-by-side comparisons should help you identify the faults of the fake bills.

2. Make Sure to Receive Your Money Under Good Lighting Condition

If you notice, most of the Philippine banknotes’ security features are only prominent when you view them under good lighting conditions. As such, avoid accepting money if the environment’s too dark and doesn’t allow you to check the security features.

3. Use a Fake Money Detector

Business owners or those who receive large wads of cash from clients should have a fake money detector. This device uses a UV light that allows you to see the hidden security features of a banknote. 

How to detect fake Philippine money using UV light, you ask? The money detector’s UV light will reveal a bill’s security fibers, which will appear like tiny neon lights. One important thing to remember is that legitimate money absorbs UV light,  so it shouldn’t appear bright or reflective under the detector.

Even if you’re on the go, you can still check your money by using a portable fake money detector. These detectors usually come with a flashlight or laser pointer, and you can score one via online stores.

4. Train Your Employees to Detect Fake Money

Aside from equipping your employees with a fake money detector, you must train them how to know if the money is fake. While you’re at it, train them to spot suspicious behaviors of customers handing over supposedly fake money; these customers may be nervous or appear in a hurry.  

5. Bring Your Transactions Online as Much as Possible

Reduce the odds of receiving fake money by carrying out your financial transactions online. Using your online wallets and mobile banking apps is not only safe but also convenient. You may also implement this system in your business, so customers won’t have to pay you in cash.  

Read more: What is a Debit Card? Your Guide to Cashless Transactions

Final Thoughts

Despite the proliferation of digital transactions and cryptocurrencies, people remain reliant on tangible cash. Given that, there’s always a chance that you’ll receive counterfeit money. 

Avoid falling prey to schemers and fraudsters by knowing how to differentiate fake money vs. real money. Truth be told, inspecting every banknote that comes your way is taxing and time-consuming. But it will be worth it, and having  the peace of mind will always be priceless. Moreover, you’ll be more confident every time you transact using cash.

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