How to Tell If a Canadian Fifty Dollar Bill Is Fake

by Stephanie Faris ; Updated May 08, 2018
Canadian $50 bills have six security features.

Several years ago, Canada introduced money made of polymer, making it more difficult to counterfeit. Instances of this type of fraud immediately dropped, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reporting a decline of 74 percent from 2014 to 2015. When criminals do try to pass fake bills, clerks often recognize the difference immediately, since the polymer feel of Canada’s newer money is very distinct. But Canada’s modern bank notes also have unique features that can make them immediately noticeable if someone is trying to pass a fake. The $50 note is low enough in denomination to be popular with customers but hefty enough to create a sizable loss if a retailer accepts a fake.

At First Glance

The $50 note is loaded with features that can be difficult to duplicate. Anyone who regularly accepts currency on behalf of a business should study these features. It may help for a business to have a copy of the note close to its checkout system to make it easier for employees to compare.

On the front of the $50 note is an image of William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served as prime minister for much of the first half of the 20th century. On that side, you’ll also see a vertical window featuring a hologram of King, with a hologram of the Centre Block of Parliament below it. On the flip side, you’ll also find the vertical window with the same images, this time to the right of the bill, and in the center, you’ll see the Canadian Coast Guard ship Amundsen.

At Second Glance

If you’re still in doubt, the Bank of Canada recommends tilting the bill to take advantage of its hologram features. When viewed at an angle, you’ll see the security features in even greater detail. You’ll also notice at this angle that the metallic portrait in the window matches the portrait at the center of the bill, a detail that isn’t as noticeable when staring at the note straight on. You can also use a small light to reveal numbers within the maple leaf. These are not easily visible without the aid of extra lighting.

Also, closely scrutinize the images in the vertical window. Do the images have the same detail as those on the other side? Are there small numbers imprinted within the window? In addition to the metallic Centre Block of Parliament, you should also see a border around the maple leaf in the leaves at the bottom corner of the window.

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Detection by Touch

In addition to sight, you can use the sense of touch to spot a fake. The note itself should have a plastic-like feel. Counterfeit bills have been reported to feel more like paper. Acquaint yourself with the typical feel of $50 notes, as well as the other denominations, to make sure you know how a bill is supposed to feel so that you’ll have a point of comparison.

There are certain areas of the bill that are raised, including the numbers denoting the dollar amount. This feature is built in to allow sight-impaired consumers to be able to use the bills for payment. The only way to be 100 percent certain that a bill isn’t counterfeit, however, is to use a counterfeit detection machine.

About the Author

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and freelance writer whose work has appeared on the websites of Pacific Standard, the New York Post, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of eight children’s novels, including the Piper Morgan series.

Photo Credits

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