This is what to do if you think you have a counterfeit bill

When we operate with cash, one of the doubts that citizens may have is whether the ticket they pay with or the one they keep after making a purchase (when receiving the change) is legal or not. Often the differences are slight and you may unknowingly have a counterfeit bill in your wallet.

According to the , during 2020, 460,000 counterfeit bills were withdrawn, of which two thirds were 20 and 50 euros. The level was “extremely low” in a pandemic context, with a lower volume of cash payments and operations in general.

The agency explains that the probability of receiving a counterfeit bill “is remote” (there are 17 counterfeit bills per million), but recommends citizens “pay attention” to the bills they receive.

To help citizens know if a banknote is counterfeit or not, the Bank of Spain has made available to them the most reliable process to determine it: the ‘touch, look, turn’ which in three phases must be removed from Doubts to the person who suspects that a banknote is counterfeit.

I touched

In this first phase, the citizen must feel the surface of the banknote in order to identify the texture, which must be rough to the touch and resistant, given its mailing character and its composition, based on cotton fibers.

In addition, the Bank of Spain recommends gently touching or scratching the note with your fingernail to appreciate the relief printing system, which is used in the graphic characters and the figure on the front. There are additional tactile markings on the €200 and €500 banknotes.

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It is recommended to look at the banknote against the light to identify its identifying features: the watermark that indicates the value of the banknote and that is perceived gradually, the reason for the coincidence (looking from both sides, they form the number of the banknote), the thread of security embedded in the paper and that can be seen in the central part and the stippling, which in the lower value bills is perceived in the band on the right side.


If the citizen rotates a real ticket, he will be able to observe that the figure on the back changes color, although there are other checks that depend on the value of the ticket itself:

-On 5, 10 and 20 euro bills: the image of the holographic band on the right changes when turned, passing from the value of the bill to the euro symbol. An iridescent band with the value of the note and the euro symbol also appears in the center of the note as it is rotated.

-In banknotes of 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros: the image of the hologram changes when it is rotated, passing from its value to the representation of a door or a window, with concentric circles in the background and microtexts from the bottom to the edges of the patch.

What to do in case of doubt

If a citizen suspects a possible counterfeit banknote and after carrying out these checks he has not cleared up any doubts, he can deliver it to the Bank of Spain or any of its branches, any bank, savings bank or credit union, to a police station or send it by mail certified together with your personal data to the headquarters of the Bank of Spain.

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The Bank of Spain will be in charge of verifying whether the banknote or banknotes that have been delivered to them are false or not. If they are true, they will be returned to the citizen to his checking account. On the other hand, if they are false, he would be left without it.

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