Last week while I was at my bank, an elderly man walked in and asked the person at the cash counter to check whether the currency note of rupees one thousand denomination that he had was genuine.
He said he had got it from an ATM and when he gave it at a shop, he was told it was fake. When the person at the bank confirmed that it was a counterfeit, his face fell. “I have now lost Rs 1,000”, he said.
I suggested that he complain to the bank from whose ATM he got the currency, along with the ATM receipt or even the message on his mobile about his ATM withdrawal. “But the bank will deny it. How will I prove that it came from their ATM?” he said, as he walked out.
As per the Reserve Bank of India directive issued to all banks, cash receipts in the denominations of Rs 100 and above should not be put into recirculation by banks without the notes being ‘machine processed’ for authenticity.
Says the banking regulator, in its Master Circular of July 1, 2015, on ‘Detection and Impounding of counterfeits’: “In order to obviate complaints regarding receipt of counterfeit notes through ATMs, and to curb circulation of counterfeits, it is imperative to put in place adequate safeguards/ checks before loading ATMs with notes”.
The regulator also warns banks that “dispensation of counterfeit notes through the ATMs would be construed as an attempt to circulate the counterfeit notes by the bank concerned”.
Obviously not every bank takes this directive of the regulator seriously or else there would not be complaints of fake notes coming out of ATMs. However, whenever consumers confront them with such notes, banks invariably refuse to accept that the fake note came out of their ATM , leaving the consumer poorer by Rs 1,000 or whatever is the denomination and the number of such fake notes.
I must mention here that as per the data given by the finance ministry in reply to a Parliament question on May 6 this year, the number of fake notes of rupee 1,000 denomination is on the increase -- from 98,459 in 2012-13 to 1,43,099 in 2015-16. This is worrying because the higher the denomination, the greater the loss to the consumer, if he or she gets such a note through the ATM.
Even though the largest number of fake notes is in the denomination of Rs 500, their number seems to be coming down -- from 2,81,265 in 2012-13 to 2,61,693 in 2015-16. The total number of fake notes detected is however on the increase -- from 4.9 lakh in 2013-14 to 6.3 lakh in 2015-16. The number of counterfeit Rs 100 notes has also doubled over the years.
It’s therefore extremely important for consumers who get such notes through the ATM (or through the cash counter of the bank) to lodge a written complaint with the bank and if the bank does not take notice, complain to the RBI and also the local police, so that (hopefully) they investigate the matter.