Warning! Watch Out For Counterfeit Notes

Some bad news, I’m afraid.

The Reserve Bank's 2015 Annual ReportThe Reserve Bank’s 2015 Annual Report “noted” that more than 37,000 counterfeit banknotes were detected in circulation on 2014/15, a 63 per cent increase on the preceding financial year!

On a positive note, if you’ll pardon the second awful pun, a single production source was identified which accounted for the increase, and a number of arrests have been made in relation thereto.

The police are continuing to look into the matter, while the Reserve Bank has strengthened its combative procedures and educational workshops in response.

But what can you do to protect yourself?

Well, firstly, don’t lose too much sleep over this, because with only 28 counterfeit notes detected per million genuine banknotes, in spite the surge over the past financial year the level of counterfeiting in Australia remains low by international standards.

Secondly, watch out for those fifties, because of the 37,134 counterfeit notes detected in circulation, 33,292 of them were of the yellow variety with the southern cross motif!

Green $100 banknotes accounted for most of the remainder, with 2,943 counterfeit notes detected.

Number of counterfeit notes

Common cents

Common sense should tell you to watch out for those green notes with the lyrebird image on them, because they are more costly if you do accidentally pick up a wrong ‘un!

In dollar value terms, there were nearly $2 million of counterfeit notes with around $1.7 million of those being fifty dollar notes or 84 per cent by value, and $300,000 in hundred dollar notes.

Although there were quite a few twenties that were found to be counterfeits – and even a handful of fives and tens – in dollar value terms these accounted for a total of only around $16,000 of the fakes.

Value of counterfeit notes

Finally, if you’re a keen bridge player and you like to skew the odds in your favour, then you’ll know to use lower dollar banknotes wherever possible, for the odds of them being counterfeit per million notes is proportionately much lower.

Counterfeit banknotes

Thus be a little vigilant with the higher dollar value notes over the next year and on balance you will have more to worry about from the legal printing of money devaluing the notes in your pocket than illegal counterfeits!

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Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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