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Hints & Tips

Our advice is to remain vigilant at all times and check all banknotes being passed in a payment. Use the checks described in our information materials. If you are seen to be checking banknotes, counterfeiters will probably try to pass them somewhere else.

Be aware that those trying to pass counterfeit notes will often try to buy a low value item, using a high value note such as a £20 note. This is so that they can get away with your stock and money from your till.

What type of UV lamp should I use to check that a banknote is genuine?

A good quality ultra violet (UV) lamp that emits light at around 365 nanometres is best for checking the fluorescent feature on the £5, £10, £20 and Boulton and Watt £50 notes (the Houblon £50 note does not have the fluorescent feature). The use of LED (Light Emitting Diode) devices (such as key fob type detectors) is not recommended as the majority of these emit light at greater than 365 nanometres. Remember, do not just check one security feature but check a few such as the feel of the paper and the raised print, the watermark and the metallic thread.

Can I use a "detector pen" to check that banknotes are genuine?

Simple tests reveal that some (but not all) counterfeit notes can be detected using such pens. The pens work by a chemical reaction between the pen ink and the paper. Using such pens is not a foolproof method of checking that a banknote is genuine because some counterfeits may be configured to react in the same way as genuine banknotes. Unreliability can also occur if pens are old or dirty.

Should you have a Company Policy regarding counterfeit banknotes?

Retailers and businesses may benefit from establishing a company policy, so employees are clear on the procedures to follow should they be presented with or discover a counterfeit banknote.

The Bank of England believes the following elements form the basis of a good policy:

  • Establish a policy and ensure that staff are aware of it
  • Avoid confrontation and do not put staff at risk of attack or injury
  • Train staff in counterfeit detection by using education materials available free of charge from the Bank of England
  • Where possible retain the counterfeit note(s) and ask for an alternative means of payment. Take the customer's details and give them a receipt, so they can be reimbursed by the Bank of England if the notes are found to be genuine.
  • Call the police as soon as possible and give them the counterfeit notes, or take them to the police station later if requested by them.