Do you know how to spot fake banknotes?

| January 2020

Paper £20 and £50 notes are the most counterfeited banknotes. With both polymer and paper versions of notes in current circulation, be confident you are able to spot a fake. The Bank of England has released a bank checking scheme which we should all be aware of, as both retailers and customers.

For polymer notes, there are two main checking features to look out for on the £5, £10 and £20 notes. Firstly, the bottom off-centre written number hologram should change between, for example, ‘Five’ and ‘Pounds’, when you tilt it from side to side. Secondly, for each of the notes, the see-through window displays a metallic image that shows different colours on the front and reverse of the note. So for both the £5 and £10 notes the foil is gold on the front and silver on the back, and the £20 note is blue and gold on the front and silver on the back. There are other security features for the polymer notes such as ultra-violet numbers and a silver foil patch that displays a 3D image of the coronation crown.

The paper note versions also have two key checking features, and similarly contain a hologram image change, with the ‘£’ symbol changing to the number of the note when moved from side to side. When you hold the paper version to the light you should see a bright ‘20’ in the watermark at the top of the Queen’s portrait. Again, there are further security features, such as ultra-violet elements and the unique feel of the paper, as well as the ability to feel raised print on certain words.

For the full article and what to do if you experience a counterfeit note, please visit