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Counterfeit prevention

Learn why it’s important to check your bank notes, how to report suspected counterfeits, and what the Bank of Canada is doing to fight counterfeiting.

It pays to check

Checking bank notes protects everyone, so don’t be offended if a cashier carefully examines your bills. Routinely checking the security features of all notes – large and small – allows cashiers to intercept counterfeits and keep them out of the till and out of your change.

Security features are helpful only if you use them. To fight counterfeiting, the Bank offers free training materials to help the public, businesses, and police agencies use the security features in genuine bank notes. If you know your notes, you’ll be able to detect a counterfeit at a glance and protect yourself from fraud.

The impact of counterfeiting on Canadians

Any individual who, knowingly or not, accepts a counterfeit bears the loss. In other words, there’s no reimbursement. It’s the same in any country. In Canada, it is a criminal offence to knowingly use or keep counterfeit money.

Financial loss

The financial loss from a counterfeit note can be significant for individuals and businesses alike. Whether it’s a small or large business, the loss incurred from accepting a single counterfeit $100 note can affect a day’s profits or lead to increased prices that are ultimately borne by the consumer.

Public confidence

Counterfeiting not only causes a financial loss to whoever gets stuck with it, it can also seriously undermine public confidence in our currency. Confidence is essential because once lost, it’s hard to regain.

In recent years, Canadians’ confidence in their bank notes has remained steady, and the number of counterfeits in circulation remained low.

Dealing with suspicious money

During a transaction

If you suspect that you’re being offered a counterfeit note, assess the situation to ensure that you are not at risk. Then, do the following:

  • Politely refuse the note and explain that you suspect that it may be counterfeit.
  • Ask for another note (and check it too).
  • Advise the person to check the note with the local police.
  • Inform your local police of a possible attempt to pass suspected counterfeit money.
  • Be courteous. Remember that the person in possession of the bill could be an innocent victim who does not realize that the note is suspicious.

After a transaction

If you suspect that you’ve received a counterfeit note, give it to the local police.

  • If it’s real, you’ll get it back.
  • Either way, the police should be informed of possible counterfeiting activity in your community. Timely reporting helps police and prosecutors bring counterfeiters to justice.

How the Bank of Canada fights counterfeiting

The Bank takes counterfeiting very seriously and works with police and prosecutors to monitor and respond to counterfeiting threats and to minimize their impact on Canadians. We are focused on:

  • Security—by issuing bank notes with leading-edge security features to help stay ahead of counterfeiting.
  • Education—conducting outreach and teaching the public, businesses and the police how to detect counterfeit notes.
  • Quality—from printing new notes to monitoring those that are already in circulation, we ensure that worn notes are replaced efficiently and that notes handled in day-to-day transactions are of good quality which makes them easy to verify and use.

Achieving consistently low levels of counterfeiting is critical to maintaining confidence in bank notes.

Bank note security features

U.S. bank notes

Learn how to check them and access training and educational materials. All suspect counterfeit U.S. notes must be turned over to local police.

Counterfeiting statistics

The RCMP publishes annual statistics on bank note counterfeiting in Canada.

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