Any business that handles cash is at risk of receiving forged banknotes.
The new £5 and £10 polymer notes – produced on a film manufactured by Innovia of Wigton – are much harder for forgers to copy but the polymer replacement for the ‘Adam Smith’ £20 won’t enter circulation until 2020.
And it’s forged £20 notes that are the biggest problem.
Some 347,000 forged banknotes, with a total value of £7.47m, were removed from circulation last year and 297,000 of them were counterfeit £20s.
The problem appears to be getting worse. In the first half of this year 237,000 forged notes were found, 199,000 of them £20s.
The forgeries are getting more sophisticated too.
High-quality counterfeit notes can be produced very quickly by skilled printers using traditional offset lithographic methods.
And organised crime groups are producing digitally-printed fakes using the latest technology and laser or inkjet printing techniques.
All this has led the Bank of England to launch the Banknote Checking Scheme to help retailers and other businesses that handle cash to identify forgeries.
It says: “Counterfeit notes are produced only because criminals believe they will find somewhere to spend them and can do so without consequence.
We want to support retailers by providing the tools and information you need to increase the resilience of your front line in the fight against counterfeiters.
“We want to support retailers by providing the tools and information you need to increase the resilience of your front line in the fight against counterfeiters.”
The scheme promotes the checking of banknotes at the point of sale through targeted training, and explains what staff should do when they spot a forgery.
The aim is to reduce the number of counterfeit notes being accepted and therefore reduce losses to businesses.
Supporters have access to advice and education and training materials to help shape banknote checking within their business.
These include leaflets, posters, online training, targeted advice and regular webinars as well as updates on relevant banknote topics such as the issue of new-style banknotes and the withdrawal of old banknotes.
In exchange, retailers and other businesses pledge support to a set of six guiding principles on an annual basis to encourage increased banknote checking at point of sale in a way that suits their business model.
The scheme is the first of its type in the UK and is a collaboration between the Bank the Association of Convenience Stores, British Retail Consortium, Crimestoppers, National Crime Agency, National Pubwatch, Petrol Retailers’ Association, and Retailers Against Crime.
The Bank of England is hosting two free webinars next month to enable businesses to find out more about and ask questions.
Details are on the Cumbria Business Growth Hub website.
The Bank has also a developed an app that enables users to view all Bank of England banknotes and their security features. It was recently updated to include features on the polymer £10 note introduced in September.
In addition, it offers general advice including what to do if you think you have a counterfeit banknote.
The app is free to download and available for Apple iOS and Android devices. For more information, click here.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce