Keep your notes in check as counterfeits on the rise again

05 July 2024

Counterfeit notes have been causing headaches for businesses for years, but with the introduction of the new, more secure polymer banknotes, the number of forged notes in general circulation in the UK has reduced dramatically over recent years.

But despite the extra security features that were introduced with these new polymer notes, and the crackdown on identifying more counterfeit notes before entering circulation by the police and crime agencies, forgeries are once again starting to become more prevalent, as counterfeiters and scammers find more and more sophisticated ways of producing fake banknotes.

The past 12 months have seen a number of new forgeries enter circulation, with £20 notes remaining the most forged bank notes, and even Scottish banknotes being targeted too - and these new forgeries are becoming even harder to spot than normal.

Similar rises are also being seen globally, with several Central European countries including Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia seeing a rise in forgeries of 22% in 2022, and the Deutsche Bundesbank reporting “considerably more counterfeits in circulation” in 2023 (an increase of 28%).

Identifying counterfeit banknotes

While some counterfeit notes may be obvious, as they look or feel different, the National Crime Agency (NCA) report that scammers are using skilled printers to produce more refined high-quality counterfeit paper for forged notes, meaning even expert eyes have difficulty distinguishing them from the real thing.

In any busy retail environment, it’s easy for fake notes to be accepted quickly and then as a business you lose out, as any notes returned to the Bank of England cannot be reimbursed.

This is where cash handling experts Volumatic can help.

For a simple, accurate, reliable and cost-effective solution, our popular BV30 SD forgery detector is a must-have. The BV30 SD is compact, fitting discreetly at your POS, making it perfect for smaller retailers, and meets the all-important Bank of England framework for forgery detectors, meaning it will detect all known forgeries.

Its intelligent software can also be updated quickly and easily via SD card, meaning it’s easy to keep up to date for any future banknote changes, such as the new King Charles notes, which are released on 5th June 2024.

For businesses that take much larger volumes of cash, our FC300 friction note counter also has a forgery detector functionality. Our latest high-speed note checker and counter counts up to 1,500 notes of multiple denominations a minute and has also passed the Bank of England’s framework test.

Or if you’re looking for an all-in-one intelligent cash handling solution, meet Volumatic’s award-winning CCi.

The CCi (CounterCache intelligent) validates, counts, and securely stores banknotes and fits neatly under your till point, keeping cash out of sight and meaning cash is only touched once between POS and your bank.

It detects all known forgeries as they are fed into the device and will not accept any counterfeit notes.

Volumatic’s Sales & Marketing Director, Mike Severs, says, “Volumatic offers a range of different solutions for counterfeit detection and we’re extremely proud that our devices meet the Bank of England framework test. Whether you’re looking for a simple solution like the BV30 SD, or a more advanced solution like the CCi, Volumatic can help you identify the right device for your business.

Forged banknotes are unfortunately becoming more sophisticated over time and all businesses should be investing in technology that can help them prove the notes are fraudulent, giving you confidence at POS and improving your bottom line, particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis, where no one can afford to be losing money.”


What to do with counterfeit notes

Thankfully, due to innovative forgery detection devices like those offered by Volumatic, eagle-eyed retailers and checks through the banking system, the vast majority of counterfeits are usually discovered before they go back into circulation. Counterfeits are typically removed from circulation quickly, often after a single use.

Back in December 2023, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) became a strategic partner of the Bank of England’s Banknote Checking Scheme, helping to protect small businesses from the risks associated with accepting counterfeit banknotes.

This scheme offers retailers who accept cash advice the following advice when dealing with fraudulent banknotes:

  • Be aware that the majority of people trying to use counterfeit notes will usually try to buy a low-value item using a high-value note
  • Businesses that accept counterfeits are often targeted repeatedly, so don’t assume it’s a one-off
  • Although the introduction of polymer notes heavily reduced counterfeits, there are now new deceptive polymer counterfeits doing the rounds
  • Always make sure your entire team are trained on counterfeits so they can confidently check notes at POS
  • Try to stay up-to-date with best practices on how to deal with counterfeits and also important banknote developments by checking the Bank of England website - new advice has been issued in the last week on spotting new King Charles III banknote forgeries following their release earlier this month

You can find out more about the Bank of England’s Banknote Checking Scheme here and more about what to look for to avoid forgeries on the new King Charles notes here

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