The cost of counterfeit currency

The Social Costs of Currency Counterfeiting, a report released by the RBA recently, outlines how counterfeit currency can be very costly for small businesses.

The report states that of all the reported detections of counterfeit notes in 2013, businesses detected approximately 34%.

The report states “businesses that make the mistake of accepting counterfeit notes suffer direct loss”—counterfeit notes handed in to the police are not reimbursed. That being said, it is a federal offence to knowingly possess counterfeit banknotes, so you must make sure to approach the police as soon as possible, if you are in possession of a counterfeit note.

Needless to say, discovering a counterfeit note while counting money at the end of the day could prove to be a lose-lose situation for small businesses such as newsagencies.

One way to prevent this from occurring to your business is knowing how to distinguish a counterfeit bill from a genuine one. This will enable you to identify a counterfeit note before it is exchanged between you and a customer—once it is exchanged for a good or service, it becomes you possession, and your responsibility.

Here are seven things you should check if you ever suspect a banknote of being counterfeit, as adapted from a guide released by the RBA*.

Whip a note out of your wallet and look for each thing as you read!

  1. Plastic or paper? Australian banknotes are all printed on plastic. They are difficult to tear along the edge, and when scrunched, they spring back to their original condition.
  2. Coat of arms. When holding a genuine banknote to the light, the Australian Coat of Arms can be seen.
  3. Seven point star. Genuine banknotes have a diamond shaped pattern printed inside a circle on each side of the note. When held to the light, they align perfectly to form a seven point star.
  4. Clear window. The clear window on genuine banknotes is integrated into the note—it is NOT an addition. The white images on the window cannot be rubbed off easily, and there is also embossing in the window.
  5. Dark printing. This is produced with a special raised ink, so that it can be felt by your fingers on a genuine note.
  6. Print quality. The background print is sharp and contains no irregularities on genuine bank notes.
  7. The top left corner of $5 notes and the area near the portrait on other notes contain tiny, clearly defined words, which can be seen clearly under a magnifying glass.

If you find the banknote you are inspecting does not contain one of more of these things, there is a chance it is counterfeit.

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