For all their multiple benefits, including durability and longevity, Canada's new polymer banknotes were developed in large part to improve the security of cash, as polymer notes enable the use of cutting-edge security features not possible with paper bank notes. Polymer notes have security features that are faster to check with your own eyes and fingers, and don’t require special equipment such as counterfeit detecting pens. In a story about the original release of the $100 notes, the CBC noted that from an all-time high of 470 counterfeit bills detected per million in 2004, the number of counterfeits had fallen to 35 per million in 2011. One might hope that the new high-tech bills with many integrated anti-counterfeit features will reduce that number still further, or maybe even convince potential counterfeiters to just give up.
New Bills, Same Old Problem
Unfortunately, the lure of getting "free cash" by counterfeiting it hasn't gone away, and a new set of crooks is working on the problem. Earlier this year, the National Press reportedthat counterfeit $100 bills had been detected in the region surrounding Vancouver. The honeymoon period of reliable security with the new notes, it appears, is over.
Worse still, the RCMP is worried that the new bills have lulled people into a false sense of security, assuming they are impossible to counterfeit, or at least that the counterfeiters haven't figured out how yet. Great security features in new banknotes don't work if nobody is checking them, assuming, instead, that anything looking and feeling like a polymer bill has to be genuine. The unfamiliar feel of the new bills can also be an issue. With the old paper money, cashiers and other workers who habitually handled a lot of cash could sometimes detect a counterfeit simply because the paper didn't feel right in the hand. If it wasn't a definite clue, at least it could cue them to check the bills more closely. Until cashiers gain enough experience with handling the polymer bills, they won't have the same ability.
Check Your Bills
The only way to avoid dealing with the trouble of a counterfeit bill is to avoid accepting it in the first place, and that means checking bills when you accept them, and training cashiers and others who accept cash to do the same. The Bank of Canada lists all of the security featureson their website, and many of them are quick and easy to check as soon as a bill is accepted. For example, getting in the habit of feeling the raised ink sections on every bill only takes a second, but it can prevent you from accepting a counterfeit.
Automated cash management equipment with the ability to detect counterfeit bills gives you another layer of protection against phony currency, while also improving the necessary cash handling and counting procedures you need to do regardless. Depending on the needs of your business, you can employ a dedicated counterfeit detection machine which uses infrared, ultraviolet, and magnetic technology to verify bills, or you can invest in a bill counter with integrated counterfeit detection features. Regardless which path you choose, having technological backup to your cashiers and cash-counters does even more to protect you against the problems of counterfeit bills.