How to detect fake peso bills

James Ryan Jonas

A few days ago, we talked about an emerging scam tactic wherein a store cashier replaces a buyer’s cash with fake money. When faced with that situation with no evidence to prove that the money was in fact replaced, the buyer has no other choice but to to give the cashier a new one.

One way to prevent this from happening is to confirm before paying that the cash you are using is indeed not fake. For you to do this, we’ve provided below a good guide in determining if your currency is fake or not. Information were provided by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

How to determine if your peso bill is fake or not


The paper feels rough when fingers are run through it. Genuine peso bills also do not glow under ultraviolet light.

Security Fibers

Visible red and blue fibers are embedded and scattered at random on both surfaces of a genuine bill. These can also be picked off easily by using any pointed instrument.


Each peso note has a predominant color:

  • 1,000-piso – Blue
  • 500-piso – Yellow
  • 200-piso – Green
  • 100-piso – Mauve
  • 50-piso – Red
  • 20-piso – Orange

(a) Watermark

The watermark is the silhouette of the portrait on the face of the note. When viewed against the light, details of the light and shadow effect of the watermark can be seen. The contours of the watermarked portrait can also be felt by running the fingers over the design.

(b) Embedded Security Thread

This is a special thread vertically embedded off center of the peso note. This is easily seen when the bill is viewed against the light. It appears as a broken line for Php 5, Php 10 and Php 20 bills and a straight line for Php 50, Php 100, Php 200, Php 500 and Php 1,000 bills.

(c) Windowed Security Thread

This is a narrow thread located vertically like stitches on the note. It has a cleartext of the numerical value in repeated sequence. Depending on the angle view, it changes in color from magenta to green and vice-versa.

(d) Iridescent Band

The Iridescent Band is a glistening gold vertical stripe on the side of a note with the numerical value printed on it.

(e) Portrait

The portraits on the notes appear life-like especially since the eyes seem to “sparkle.” Shadings are formed by the fine lines that give the portrait a characteristic facial expression which is difficult to replicate.

(f) Serial Number

The Serial Number is composed of 1 or 2 prefix letters and 6 or 7 digits. It is printed with uniform size and thickness, evenly spaced, and well-aligned. It also glows under ultraviolet light.

(g) Background / Lacework Design

The background designs are made up of multicolored and well defined lines. The lacework designs are composed of web-crisscrossing lines which are continuous and traceable even at the intersection.

(h) Vignette

The lines and dashes of the vignette are fine, distinct, and sharp. The varying color tone gives a vivid look to the picture making it “stand out” of the paper.

(i) Value Panel

These are the numerals found at the four corners of the back and front surfaces of the note. They denote the denomination of the bill.

(j) Fluorescent Printing

An invisible numerical value on the face of the note that glows under ultraviolet light.

(k) Microprinting

These are minute and finely printed — but clearly printed and readable — words “Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas” or “Central Bank of the Philippines” located at the face or back of the note.

(l) Concealed Value

Php 500 notes have a Concealed Value located at the lower left corner on the front side of the note recognizable when the note is held at eye level.

(m) Optically Variable Ink

Php 1,000 notes have Optically Variable Ink that changes color from green to blue and vice-versa when the note is viewed in different angles.

Now that you know all these,  we hope you won’t be a victim of fake money!

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.