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Watch out for fake money

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Canadians like using cash. It’s a fast and convenient means of payment.

In 2006, there were some 1.3 billion notes in circulation worth more than $43 billion. That’s about 40 bills for every person in Canada.

And demand for cash increases each year by about five percent.

During the busy summer holiday season, businesses, consumers, and tourists exchange cash more frequently. But with this increased volume of cash transactions, there is a greater risk of inadvertently getting stuck with a counterfeit bill.

Canada’s paper money has security features that are easy to use but difficult for counterfeiters to copy.

When cash handlers are aware of these features and regularly check for them, they play an important role in stopping counterfeiters from circulating bogus bills.

It’s quick and easy to do!

In the past two years, the number of counterfeit bank notes has been cut in half, although it is still too high. Vigilant cash handlers capable of identifying the security features in our paper money likely contributed to this decline.

To help maintain this downward trend, it is important that cash-accepting businesses routinely verify all bills they accept—and that consumers anticipate this check as part of doing business.

Think of verifying bank notes as the authorization process for cash transactions—just like getting an electronic credit or debit card authorization.

Recognizing the difference between genuine and counterfeit money is as simple as paying attention to what’s in your hands. Often, how the note feels is the first indication that something might not be quite right.

Checking security features takes only a couple of seconds. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you look at a bill:

•is the metallic stripe shifting through the various colours of the rainbow when the bill is tilted back and forth?

•is there a ghost-like image or watermark of the portrait in the centre of the note when it is held to the light?

•is the see-through number to the right of the watermark perfectly aligned when the note is held to the light?

Whether you are receiving cash from a customer or accepting change as a consumer, both parties involved in a cash transaction have the right to refuse a bill if they suspect that it may be counterfeit.

It’s acceptable to ask for another bank note.

Knowingly passing a counterfeit note is a serious crime—punishable by a prison term of up to 14 years.

If you do receive a counterfeit note, the RCMP recommends you report it immediately to your local police.

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