The Bank of Canada's polymer bill series was developed in part to combat counterfeiting, utilizing new technologies to make bills both harder to copy and easier to verify as real. Statistics published by the RCMPshow that the number of counterfeit bills passed into circulation and the number of bills seized have both dropped significantly over the past few years. While this is encouraging, it's important to remember that the number of counterfeit bills passed into circulation has not reached zero. Recent news stories such as this one from The Western Starshow that counterfeit bills are still being found in circulation, especially because not all of the old paper bills have yet been removed from circulation. Individuals and business owners still need to protect themselves against counterfeiting.
Protecting your business against counterfeit bills effectively means training yourself and your staff to detect suspicious bills and refuse them in transactions. There is no recourse after you have accepted a counterfeit bill, neither for businesses nor for private individuals. It is illegal to knowingly pass on a counterfeit bill to someone else, and banks are not required to exchange them for genuine bills. The Bank of Canada actively pursues this policyin order to discourage counterfeiting, because if anyone could simply hand over a counterfeit bill at a bank and receive a genuine bill, it would merely give counterfeiters a new avenue to benefit from counterfeiting, because they could just hand over a counterfeit bill at the bank and get free money in exchange. It would also take away the public’s incentive to oppose counterfeiting and help the authorities detect it.
Protecting yourself against counterfeit bills means being able to detect them and refuse them. Even with the new polymer bill security features, this can be easier said than done. The security features are not difficult to check, but staff need to be trained in how to use them. Not all business owners realize the importance of such training, or have the resources available to do it.
One example of effective counterfeit training is provided by a generous Calgary residentwho volunteers his time to teach business owners and staff about detecting counterfeit bills. John Hornach, a former salesman with training from the Calgary Police Service, visits businesses on his own time, bringing samples of counterfeit bills so staff can examine and handle them. This gives staff members the opportunity to compare genuine bills with counterfeits and learn how to check the security features in a genuine bill correctly.
This program is a great resource for Calgary businesses, but such training programs are few and far between, and not all of them may be available for free or at minimal cost. Even if a business owner invests in resources to train staff about counterfeit bills, the high level of employee turnover in some businesses makes expensive training prohibitive, and some of the businesses with the highest turnover are also those at greatest risk of receiving counterfeit bills, such as service stations and convenience stores.
Fortunately, there are some resources available to every business owner to help efforts to detect and reject counterfeit bills. Those will be discussed in detail in part two of this series.