Counterfeit Detection Tips

There may be occasions when we are presented with a banknote that doesn’t look quite right. Below are questions we should ask ourselves about the suspect note to help us determine whether it is genuine. Please note, however, that the Central Bank of Barbados is the only organization in Barbados with the authority to confirm the authenticity of Barbadian banknotes.

The below tips are for the 2007 series. Click here to learn how to authenticate 2013 series banknotes

Look

One of the first steps to take when trying to determine the authenticity of a banknote is to examine the note carefully to see if the various design and security features are present and as they should be.

General Questions

  1. Is the note the correct size?
  2. Is the note the correct colour for the denomination?
  3. Does the note feature the correct portrait?
  4. Does the value in numerals match the denomination in words?
The Watermark

  1. Does the note have a watermark?
  2. Does the watermark have light and shaded areas?
  3. Is the watermark visible when viewing the note from both sides?
  4. Is the watermark visible when the note is lying flat?

The Security Thread

  1. Does the note have a security thread?
  2. Is it the correct security thread for the denomination?
  3. Is the thread visible when the note is lying flat?

The See-through Feature

  1. Do the two halves of the image form a single, perfectly aligned image when the note is held up to light?
Feel

Professional moneyhandlers (cashiers, tellers, etc.) have said that the feel of counterfeit notes is usually quite different from that of genuine currency.

  1. Does the note feel waxy, smooth or coarse?
  2. Does the ink used to print the portrait, the large value numeral, and the words Central Bank of Barbados feel as though it sits above the paper?
Tilt

Certain elements of Barbadian banknotes change in appearance when they catch light at particular angles.

  1. Does the grey iridescent area of the see-through feature appear to have a sheen when tilted?
  2. Does the grey iridescent area to the right of the portrait on lower denomination notes ($2 - $20) appear to have a sheen when tilted?
  3. In higher denomination notes ($50 and $100), do the windowed security thread and foil feature to the right of the portrait reflect light when the note is tilted?
Check

Barbadian banknotes contain certain elements that are not visible without the use of special equipment.

  1. Does a box with the denomination of the banknote appear when the note is viewed under ultra violent (UV) light?
  2. Do certain elements of the banknote glow when viewed under UV light?

General Questions

  1. All denominations of Barbadian banknotes are the same size: 150mm x 65mm
  2. Each denomination has its own colour:
  3. Each denomination features a different outstanding Barbadian
  4. $2 – John Redman Bovell
  5. $5 – Sir Frank Worrell (previously Samuel Jackman Prescod – 1973-1976)
  6. $10 – Charles Duncan O’Neal
  7. $20 – Samuel Jackman Prescod
  8. $50 – Errol Barrow
  9. $100 – Sir Grantley Adams
  10. The denomination of the banknotes is written in both words and numerals; the two should always match

The Watermark

  1. Since the first issue of currency by the Central Bank of Barbados, banknotes have contained a watermark in the shape of the map of Barbados
  2. The watermark should be textured and not simply be a cartoonish outline
  3. The watermark should be visible from either side of the note when the note is held up to light
  4. The watermark should not be visible when the note is lying flat

The Security Thread

  1. Modern Barbadian banknotes have a security thread
  2. The type of thread varies according to the denomination of the note:
  3. Lower denomination notes ($2, $5, $10): The security thread is a thin black line that is visible only when the note is held up to light.
  4. Higher denomination notes ($20, $50, $100): The security thread is “windowed” – partially visible when the note is lying flat – and has CBB$20, CBB$50 or CBB$100 printed on it. The visible portion of the thread is made of highly reflective silver foil. When the note is held up to light, the missing portions of the thread should appear and create a solid line.

Nb. Previous series of twenty-dollar notes do not have a windowed thread. In these series, the security thread is thicker than in lower denomination notes and has CBB$20 printed on it but is only visible when the note is held up to light.

  1. The security thread is placed between the paper prior to printing and should not be visible when the note is lying flat. However, in the $50 and $100 notes, which have windowed threads, portions of the thread are visible

The See-through Feature

  1. When held up to light, the two halves of the see-through feature fit together perfectly to form a single image. There should be no spaces, overlaps and portions out of alignment.
Feel
  1. Barbados banknotes are printed on a paper made from cotton fibre, not wood pulp, and is thicker and coarser than the paper used in photocopiers and printers. The paper should never be waxy or smooth
  2. Because of the printing process used to process banknotes, the ink is not absorbed into the paper, but remains above it. Over time, the raised feel of the ink may disappear as the note becomes more worn.
Tilt
  1. The grey areas of the see-through feature should have a slightly shiny look when tilted.
  2. The grey area to the right of the portrait should have a slightly shiny look when tilted.
  3. The foil elements of the $50 and $100 notes are extremely reflective and should reflect light when tilted.
Check
  1. In more recent banknotes, a box with the denomination of the banknote in numerals appears when the note is placed under ultra violet light. Older notes do not have this feature.
  2. In more recent banknote, several of the design elements fluoresce when the note is placed under ultra violet light. Older notes do not have this feature.

Nb. The level or presence of fluorescence can be altered by washing, bleaching, soiling or regular wear and tear. In addition, the machines used to detect the presence of fluorescence can malfunction. The Central Bank therefore advises that the “check” method be used in conjunction with one or more of the other methods of authentication.

Copyright 2017 by Central Bank of Barbados