How to spot the imposters

Australia has one of the lowest rates of counterfeiting in the world. That being said, just last week, counterfeit notes were circulated among retail businesses in the NSW town of Young.

It is important to know how to distinguish a counterfeit bill from a genuine one, in case of such an occurrence. Here are seven things you should check if you ever suspect a banknote of being counterfeit, as adapted from a guide released by the RBA. Whip a note out of your wallet and look for each thing as you read!

  1. Plastic or paper?  Australian banknotes are all printed on plastic. They are difficult to tear along the edge, and when scrunched, they spring back to their original condition.
  2. Coat of arms. When holding a genuine banknote to the light, the Australian Coat of Arms can be seen.
  3. Seven point star. Genuine banknotes have a diamond shaped pattern printed inside a circle on each side of the note. When held to the light, they align perfectly to form a seven point star.
  4. Clear window. The clear window on genuine banknotes is integrated into the note—it is NOT an addition. The white images on the window cannot be rubbed off easily, and there is also embossing in the window.
  5. Dark printing. This is produced with a special raised ink, so that it can be felt by your fingers on a genuine note.
  6. Print quality. The background print is sharp and contains no irregularities on genuine bank notes.
  7. Microprinting. The top left corner of $5 notes and the area near the portrait on other notes contain tiny, clearly defined words, which can be seen clearly under a magnifying glass.

If you find the banknote you are inspecting does not contain one of more of these things, there is a chance it is counterfeit. The best thing to do in this instance is store the note in an envelope, note down information such as how it came in to your store’s possession, and report the matter immediately to your local police. It is a federal offence to knowingly possess counterfeit banknotes, so make sure to approach the police as soon as possible.

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Have you ever encountered counterfeit banknotes? Leave a comment below, or email your story through to


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