Guardian offers tips on spotting forged banknotes
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A recent article in the Guardian outlines some tips on spotting forged banknotes – and what to do if you think a customer has tried to pay using one.


In many cases, you might simply give it back to the customer and ask for a genuine banknote in its place; however, you may be failing to fulfil your legal obligations if you do so.

Kirsty McNaught of retailer Morrisons explains that their checkout operators are obliged to retain the note and inform the police – and may even attempt to detain the customer, if they have tried to pass a large quantity of forged notes.

And it’s not just retailers who are responsible for checking for forged notes – consumers have the same responsibility, and are advised to take a moment to confirm that any notes they receive in change are genuine.

Things to look for include:

  • embossed lettering across the words ‘Bank of England’;
  • the watermark of the Queen and watermarked lettering saying ‘£20’ or ‘£50’;
  • embedded silver thread – not visible on the surface of new £50 notes, but as a dark line when held up to the light.

The Guardian article by Penny Anderson and Jill Papworth adds that £50 notes are not actually the most frequently forged, so it is well worth checking the legitimacy of any £20 notes you receive.

Without doing so, you could find yourself out of pocket at the till or, even worse, detained under an accusation of having knowingly attempted to pass a forged banknote.

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