Hints and tips for retailers
Be aware that people trying to use counterfeit banknotes 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.
Using UV lamps 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 £50 notes. 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.
Using a "detector pen" to check that banknotes are genuine
The pens work by reacting with the starch that is present in ‘normal’ wood pulp paper. So, whilst they can detect some (but not all) counterfeits printed on paper, they won’t detect counterfeits printed on polymer. Be careful as old or dirty pens can be unreliable.
Company policies on counterfeit banknotes
You should make sure your staff know what to do if they suspect a banknote is counterfeit. The following guidelines are provided as industry best practice.
If you are handed a banknote that you suspect is counterfeit, keep it and ask for another form of payment if you feel safe to do so. If the circumstances are suspicious – i.e. you suspect that the customer is knowingly trying to pass a counterfeit banknote – call the police and hand the note to them. If it is not suspicious, provide the customer with a receipt. Depending on your company policy, you can send the banknote to the Bank of England via your own bank or directly to us using our counterfeit reporting form.
If your staff feel at risk they should refuse the note but not keep it, and ask for another form of payment instead. They should report the incident internally as per your company’s policy.
If you discover a counterfeit banknote during your daily cashing-up process and the circumstances are not suspicious or if there is no evidence linking it to a specific customer (e.g. CCTV footage or storecard details), again follow your company policy and either take it to your bank or send directly to the Bank of England using our form. In suspicious circumstances or if there is evidence linking the customer to the transaction, please contact the police for advice first. Banknotes that are to be given to the police should be bagged and handled by as few people as possible, as they could provide a source of forensic evidence.
The police and banks send counterfeit banknotes to us for analysis. We will issue you with a receipt for any counterfeit banknotes you send us, and you will be reimbursed for any that turn out to be genuine.
For more information, you can contact us on +44 (0)20 3461 4878.
Counterfeit banknote reporting form