Most of the clues are visible on the obverse side of the note (the side of the note where the denomination appears at the centre). Once you have looked at the obverse side of the note, you could look for the following from left to right:
The watermark is visible in what appears to an empty portion on the left side of the note and this is what you generally find shopkeepers looking for. “If you hold your note against the light, you should be able to see a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in this space, along with multi-directional lines and an electrolyte mark showing the denominational numeral (i.e. 50, 100, 500, etc),” says Alok Rastogi, President & COO, Yes Bank.
See through register
To the left of the portrait and half down the vertical band on the side, appears a floral design, which appears hollow on the front side and filled up on the reverse side. The denominational numeral can be seen as a whole in this floral design when held up against light, despite the fact that half of the numeral is printed on one side and the other half on the reverse side.
Also, look closely at the gap between the vertical band on the right and the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. If your note is genuine, you should be able to spot the word RBI and the denominational numeral in this space. If you hold the bank note horizontally, with the right vertical band facing you, then you should also be able to spot a latent image of the denomination. However, remember that this is visible only when you hold the note at eye-level.
Below the floral design, you will find a dark patch in intaglio print (raised print). The shape of the intaglio print will vary according to the denomination of the note. “This feature is in different shapes for various denominations (Rs 20 – vertical rectangle, Rs 50 – square, Rs 100 – triangle, Rs 500 – circle and Rs 1,000 – diamond) and helps the visually impaired to identify the denomination,” says Rastogi.
There are also a few other features on the note that appear in intaglio print. These include the Mahatma Gandhi portrait, the seal of the RBI, the guarantee and the promise clause, the Ashoka pillar emblem and the RBI Governor’s signature.
This is generally one of the most visible features on the note. The 1.4 mm wide security thread appears in breaks on the front of the note. However, if you look at it from the back, it looks like a complete line. The security thread has the words RBI and Bharat (in the Devanagari script) inscribed on it and if you hold this under ultra-violet light, it will perhaps appear in yellow. “On the Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination bank notes, the machine-readable windowed security thread shift colours from green to blue when viewed from different angles,” says Rastogi.
If you’re holding onto a Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 note, then the colour of the numeral will also change from green (when you hold the note flat) to blue (when it is held at an angle). There are also optical fibres on the bank note that make themselves visible when held under ultraviolet light. Also, the year of printing of the note should also be visible in the middle and the reverse side near the bottom of the note. The bank note is also made of a fibre, which has a “unique feel” and “a crackling sound.” However, most of the above comments are with respect to the notes that were released after 2005.
What to do?
Just in case you get a fake note from an ATM, you could take it back to the branch from where you initially got it. “If you provide the time of the transaction, the amounts involved and the denominations, the bank may be able to trace the transaction.
However, it is only with respect to the denomination that the bank will able to check the veracity of the customer’s claims,” says R L Bharadwaj, senior manager (operations), Central Bank of India, Press Branch, ITO. If they can verify it, then they may give you a fresh note. The bottom line is: Look at all your notes carefully before taking it from the ATM or receiving it from another person, even if it is a trusted ally.