A blog by Jacqueline Tabora

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I got a fake-bills-from-ATM scare over the weekend.

So here's what happened:

I withdrew Php10,000 from an ATM on Saturday night. My money went to paying my house rent and the rest is for groceries and other bills payments.

Come the following morning, I decided to deposit/transfer Php4,000 to another bank account that I also own through cash deposit machine. I put in all Php1,000-peso bill and wait for the machine transaction to finish. I ended up getting back one Php1,000, tried to deposit it again but the machine just would not accept it.

The security guards of the building said I should try having my Php1,000 bill checked at a convenience store. I went to three different convenience stores in the area but unfortunately not one did not have a bill checker machine. I went back to the building to try to deposit again, this time, with additional two Php1,000 bills that I have in my wallet.

All three bills were not accepted! Three out of six Php1000 bills that I have did not get in the deposit machine! The security guard and a person withdrawing from an ATM beside me said I should try putting in smaller bills. I did put in two Php100-peso bills and it went in.

I became nervous, thinking those three bills were fake. I even contacted my landlady to know if they have problems using the money I paid them. Luckily, they did not. So that gives me a huge sigh of relief.

I ended the day worrying. But I try to condition my mind that maybe the deposit machine just had a malfunction (but it just accepted 3,200, so how could that happen? :/)

The following day (Monday), I went to my store of account and ask for the teller's assistance in checking my bills. She checked each and every piece, compared it with the ones she has on her register, talked to her manager about it and told me that the bills are genuine and there are instances that bills might not be accepted by machines (she did not elaborate, but maybe because of the quality of the bill or the machine is just being picky and stubborn?).

I decided to deposit the bills to my account instead and the teller agreed. I did not ask the teller how to check if a Philippine peso bill is fake or genuine, although I observed how she manually examine each bill that I presented. Also, I think she put the bills under a bills analyzer as well (did not see the device, though) for back up confirmation. I also googled some information about how to spot a fake money, especially a Php 1,000 bill.

So, how to recognize an authentic Php1,000 Philippine money?

1. The texture. The paper bill should not feel like a common coupon bond paper. The REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS print should feel embossed.

2. There should be a "1000" that should appear on the white part (right side) of the bill the moment you place the bill against the light. The half of the baybayin (that appear in front and back of the bill) should be normally visible, and the half part could be seen when the bill is put against the light.

3. There should be a reduced version of the faces/watermark of the three personalities printed on the white space of the bill.

4. The hologram sticker must have the same image printed at the back of the bill. For a Php1000 bill, it should be the South Sea Pearl.

5. The strip should look reddish when the bill is twisted at a certain angle against the light.

6. The smell. You familiar with money's smell, ayt?

7. The serial number at the left bottom corner should be ascending in size.

I promise to bear this in mind and check my bills the next time I get money from ATMs. Also, make it a habit to keep the receipt of the ATM transaction (I often do this, but during this one time, I don't know why I immediately threw it away the moment I was done with  my ATM transaction.)

I am learning cashless transaction for a while now. I pay my bills online, buy groceries or eat out using my debit cards as a form of payment, but it is inevitable to use physical cash to buy and pay for stuff.

Luckily for me, the bills I have are genuine Philippine money. But I am curious to know about this kind of incident. What if it happens? Does the customer get the money replaced? Or will he/she lose a couple of pesos for something that it's not his/her fault? I have yet to check information about this but if you know the rules about this, please share it with me.

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