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Best Practices: Safeguarding Against Money Counterfeiters


According to the United States Secret Service, there are $ 1 trillion bank notes in circulation. Of this, $2.5 billion is fake. In 2013, U.S. authorities recovered $89 million in counterfeit money. Unfortunately, this is not good news for businesses as these statistics affect them in a major way.

Some of the major businesses that are affected include supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants, fast food outlets and cafes. These businesses receive half of the counterfeit money that is passed on to businesses. The main reason for this is that these merchants carry out a large number of transactions on a daily basis and customers often pay for goods using low denomination notes. This creates a perfect opportunity for counterfeiters to pass on fake money to the businesses, since cashiers are usually less suspicious, therefore less careful when they are receiving low denomination notes than when they are handling large denomination notes.

When a counterfeiter passes on fake money to your business and they in exchange receive goods or services, it means that you have in effect transferred your wealth to them. This is because the last person left holding a counterfeit note or coin is the one who bears the loss. If this happens to be your business, you will experience low profit margins. If this happens on a regular basis, you could be soon out of business.

However, there is no need for you to suffer huge losses as a result of money counterfeiting. If you take measures to fight against money counterfeiting, you will experience less counterfeiting cases. Counterfeiters are less likely to pass on to your business fake money if they are aware that their chances of getting detected are high. In addition, using a combination of anti-counterfeiting measures will be more effective than only putting in place a single measure.

Here are some measures to put in place to protect a business against counterfeiters:

1. Authenticate each bank note and coin at the point of exchange. This can be done by checking the security features on each note or coin. You can do this through two major ways:

• Physically have your employees check the currency as customers pay for transactions. For this to work, your employees have to be trained on which security features to look for. This includes checking the watermark, security thread, color shifting ink and seal among other features.

Your employees should also be trained to know how real money feels like versus how fake money feels like. Physically inspecting the currency will only work out well in stores that have few customers, as the cashier will be able to easily cope and check them out fast.

• Purchase equipment to authenticate the money. Use anti-money counterfeiting machines to do this. The advantage of this method is that it is faster and more accurate. This makes it ideal for use in stores which have a high volume of customers and transactions. Using a machine will increase the check out speed for your customers, which will lead to a happy customer experience.

2. Use alternative means of payment in your business. Instead of having customers pay cash, introduce alternative payment methods. This includes the use of electronic payment methods. However, just keep in mind that cash is still one of the most popular ways of paying for products and services, so it is not a good idea to completely eliminate cash transactions.

It is important that you have policies in your business on how employees should handle counterfeit money in the event that they come across it, when a customer tries to pay using counterfeit money. Handling the case in the right way could save your business huge losses, since mishandling a customer could result in lawsuits that could cost you millions of money, especially if a customer ends up being falsely accused of passing on fake money.

Some of the things that should be included in your policy are:

• The suspected person should be handled in a dignified way. This is because someone may pass on fake money without knowing it. They may have received the money elsewhere and gone on ahead to use it. Employees should alert the police and try to detain the person at the store without raising suspicion, to give police enough time to get to the store. If the person refuses to wait, employees should note down the physical characteristic of the individual, how they are dressed and the registration number of their vehicle.

• Employees should be encouraged to turn over the counterfeit bill to the police. As they wait for the police, they should get into minimal contact with the note, so as to preserve any evidence that may be on it. They can keep it in a plastic bag or in an envelope. They should not try to pass on the note to another customer, since knowingly passing on a fake note to someone else is illegal and could land your business in legal trouble. They should also not take away the money for their own personal use.

• If the customer is not satisfied that the money is fake, give them a receipt for the confiscated money. If after the police carry out investigations and they find out that the money is genuine, then the customer can be refunded. However, if the note is a fake, it will be confiscated and the customer not refunded.

Alex Reichmann is a counterfeit detection expert and CEO of iTestCash.

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