Counterfeiting Canadian bank notes is a serious criminal offence that negatively affects all Canadians by reducing confidence in our nation's currency.
The RCMP and the Bank of Canada work together to inform the public about bank note security features and to encourage bank note verification. The best way to prevent currency counterfeiting is for Canadians to know their money. Most counterfeit bank notes are of poor quality and can easily be recognized by verifying a few security features.
Counterfeit deterrence requires a team approach from all partners including law enforcement agencies, the Bank of Canada, retailers and Canadian citizens working together to prevent this crime.
Counterfeit activity in Canada
Although counterfeit bank notes make up a very small percentage of all bank notes in circulation, advances in technology have made counterfeiting easier and more economical.
In 2004, Canada experienced record high concentrations of counterfeit notes being passed into circulation.
In 2006, the RCMP adopted Economic Integrity as a new strategic priority that focused on preventing, detecting and deterring crimes that affect the Canadian economy. Using an integrated approach, the Bank of Canada, the RCMP (ICET) and other law enforcement agencies, worked cooperatively through enforcement and education to reduce counterfeit currency levels in Canada. These efforts have resulted in a marked decrease in counterfeit Canadian currency, which has fallen to historical 10-year lows.
Despite lower levels in counterfeit activity, it is still important for Canadians to be diligent in authenticating their money.
The National Anti-Counterfeiting Bureau (NACB) is located at the RCMP Forensic Laboratory in Ottawa. The NACB is the central repository for all counterfeit currency in Canada. All suspect bank notes are analyzed at the NACB to determine their authenticity. The NACB also maintains extensive statistical data that aids in establishing counterfeit trends and links associated with counterfeit occurrences.
Check to protect - know your money
Even with new technology, no counterfeiter is able to produce an exact duplicate of a genuine bank note – a counterfeit is always an inferior copy of the original. At first glance, a good counterfeit looks like the real deal. But if you know what to look for – and feel for – it only takes a few seconds to detect a fake. Read more about Canadian bank note security features at the Bank of Canada.
What to do if you think you have a counterfeit bank note
When dealing with someone who is attempting to pass counterfeit bank notes, cash handlers must ensure their own safety first.
- Be especially careful during busy periods as this is when counterfeit notes are more likely to be passed
- Pay particular attention to customers who pay with bank notes of much higher denomination than is needed
- If possible, keep the suspicious bank note and record all relevant information (denomination, serial number, etc.)
- Contact your local police force
- Record the details about the circumstances and the person(s) who gave the suspect note (e.g. time, context, physical descriptions, licence plate, vehicles, etc.)
- Give the suspicious bank note to the police and request a receipt. If the note is genuine, it will be returned to you
- Remember, someone passing a counterfeit bank note may not be aware of it. He or she could be the innocent victim of a crime
- The Bank of Canada is the only institution legally authorized to issue Canadian bank notes
- $75 billion dollars' worth of Canadian banknotes are currently in circulation. The most frequently used notes are the $20 and $100 denominations
- According to the 2013 Bank of Canada payment study, cash remains the preferred method of payment for transactions under $25. Credit and debit cards are the preferred method of payment for transactions $25-$50 and over
- Large scale counterfeit currency activity in Canada is usually facilitated by organized crime groups involved in other criminal activities including, weapons offences, drugs and identity theft
- Possession, use or creation of counterfeit currency is an indictable offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison
Preventing currency counterfeiting requires a cooperative approach. You can help safeguard Canada's national currency by becoming more familiar with bank note security features. Report instances of counterfeit currency to your local law enforcement agency. We must all work together to deter this crime.
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