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    Check your notes!

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    Bank of England and FSB in partnership to tackle counterfeit notes in run-up to Christmas

    The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today (4) become a Strategic Partner of the Bank of England’s Banknote Checking Scheme to protect small businesses from the risks associated with accepting counterfeit banknotes as FSB predicts that cash payments to small businesses will increase during the festive period.

    The introduction of new polymer notes and law enforcement successes have reduced the number of counterfeits being accepted. However, businesses across the UK are still being defrauded by counterfeiters and businesses that accept counterfeits can be repeatedly targeted. An example of how criminals try to defraud businesses with counterfeit notes is to buy a low-value item using a higher value note such as a £20 or £50.

    With cash still being the number one customer payment method for 25 per cent of small high street businesses’ customers, according to FSB’s research, businesses need to be vigilant. As a new Strategic Partner of the Bank of England’s Banknote Checking Scheme, FSB will use its platform to raise awareness of the issue, which has reputational and financial impacts, to its small business members, encouraging them to sign up to the Scheme.

    It is predicted by FSB that cash payments to small businesses will increase during this festive period as cash can allow people to better budget and keep track of their spending during this cost-of-living crisis.

    Sarah John, Chief Cashier and Executive Director Banking at the Bank of England, said: “I am delighted that the Federation of Small Businesses has become a Strategic Partner of our Banknote Checking Scheme to help reduce the number of counterfeit notes being accepted and to reduce losses to businesses. The continued success of the Scheme relies on key industry stakeholders such as FSB to raise awareness and to help us ensure the Scheme continues to provide what helps their members the most.”

    “I hope that through this new strategic partnership with the Bank of England we can help our members become aware of the use of counterfeit notes and importantly, equip them with the tools of how to spot them and what to do,” said Martin McTague, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses.

    “FSB views cash as an essential part of the economy despite an increase in digital payments. Many small businesses rely heavily on cash; it provides a form of commerce to less digitalised businesses, acts as a check on pricing fees of card transactions and as a backup for when digital methods go down. For a quarter of our members, cash is still the number one customer payment method.”

    The Bank of England Banknote Checking Scheme is free for businesses to join and offers them training materials so staff can confidently check notes at point of sale and know what to do with a counterfeit note, alongside staying up to date with best practice and bank note developments. Other benefits include having a dedicated point of contact at the Bank of England and helping to make sure that the scheme continues to work well for small businesses. Small businesses can sign up to the Banknote Checking Scheme for free at https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/banknote-checking-scheme

    Key cash fraud facts:

    • People trying to use counterfeit banknotes will often try to buy a low-value item using a high-value note such as a £20 or £50.
    • Businesses that accept counterfeits can be repeatedly targeted.
    • The introduction of polymer notes has reduced counterfeits; however, there are now deceptive polymer counterfeits.
    • The first polymer notes were issued as £5 notes in 2016.
    • The Bank of England expects the King Charles III banknotes to enter circulation in mid-2024.
    • You will still be able to use polymer banknotes that feature the portrait of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and there are no plans to withdraw them.
    • The portrait of The King will appear on existing designs of all four polymer banknotes (£5, £10, £20 and £50), with no other changes. This means you can check these notes in the same way you would check existing banknotes featuring Queen Elizabeth II.

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