Oct 30, 2010 Toby Welch
The Bank of Canada Issues Canadian Money - Colin Rose
It happens more than you may realize. Someone takes out $20 from an instant teller and is unable to spend it when the coffee shop refuses to accept it. Your friend tries to buy a new DVD player only to have the cashier call the police as he is paying with bogus money; he leaves with no cash and no electronics. At the local pub, your ten dollar bill gets spilled on and the ink starts to run. You are asked leave. It happens every day in Canada.
According to Ginette Crew, a Senior Analyst at the Bank of Canada (the only organization allowed to issue Canadian paper money), “ In 2004 there were 552,980 counterfeit notes passed in Canada compared to over 1.4 billion genuine notes in circulation ($13 million in counterfeits compared to $41 billion in genuine). Counterfeits were a very small fraction of one per cent of genuine notes in circulation (4/100ths of one per cent).”
The most common denomination of counterfeit money in Canada is usually the $20 bill. This can vary from year to year but it is usually either the $10 $20 bill.
Why Should I Care About Counterfeit Money?
All financial losses are traced back to you, the consumer, who must pay higher prices for goods as a result of counterfeiting. When retailers receive counterfeit bills, they are not compensated for the money they lose and must eventually increase their prices to make up for the loss. We all pay in the long-run for the activities of counterfeiters.
As well, the higher cost of making money is passed on to you. Ginette Crew explains, “The Birds of Canada series $20, $50 and $100 bills (the previous series of bank notes) cost 6.5 cents each to produce; the new Canadian Journey series $20, $50, and $100 bills, and the upgraded Canadian Journey $10 note, cost 9 cents each. Most of the increased cost is for improved security features in the bank notes. We feel this is money well spent to protect the Canadian cash supply, and worth it every time someone avoids getting stuck with a fake bill.”
Another reason to always be on the lookout for counterfeit bills is that if you have one, there is no way to get your money back for it.
Why doesn’t the Bank of Canada offer reimbursement for counterfeit notes? According to Ginette Crew, “This would subsidize and encourage counterfeiting: the Bank would be providing a financial reward for counterfeiters' criminal behaviour. Other central banks have the same policy.” As well, it would be difficult to distinguish between an innocent recipient of a counterfeit note and a criminal.
How Are Counterfeit Bills Detected?
As every counterfeit bill is flawed in some way, they are eventually detected. This usually happens in one of five ways:
- At a bank as it is sorted
- When a cashier discovers the fake and notifies the police
- The Bank of Canada detects the fakes when they are returned from other banks due to deterioration
- Counterfeit money is seized during police busts
- Someone realizes they have a fake bill
What Should You Do If You Receive a Counterfeit Bill?
Jonathan Hart, a banker whose name has been changed due to legal issues with identifying his bank, suggests, “If you are at a bank or a merchant and you receive a bill you do not feel comfortable with, ask for it to be replaced with another one. You do not have to take a bill just because they have given it to you.”
If you receive a bill and feel your personal safety may be threatened, stay calm and call 911.
Hold on to the bank note. Record the serial number and what bill it is. Make notes on where you received the bill and the person who gave you the note, their physical description, etc.
Contact your local police department or RCMP unit and let them know your situation. When handing over the note, mark the date and your initials on it. Always get a receipt. If the RCMP Bureau for Counterfeit and Document Examinations in Ottawa concludes the bill is real, it will be returned to you.
Forget keeping a counterfeit note you have received as a souvenir. Doing so is a criminal offence and can land you up to 14 years in prison.
How Good Are Counterfeits?
Technological advances have allowed counterfeiters to improve their product. The majority of counterfeiting bills are made with a regular ink-jet printer.
Ginette Crew clarified this, “Counterfeits do vary in quality – some are poor quality or extremely poor quality. Some make an attempt at imitating some of the security features. But the key really is those security features. If you check the holographic stripe, pay attention to the raised ink, that kind of thing, you will easily be able to detect them. You don’t need any special tools, just pay attention to the look and feel.”
Think counterfeiting may be an easy way to get your hands on some extra money? Think again! Anyone who makes or even begins to make a likeness of a Canadian bank note may spend up to 14 years in prison. And for infringing on the copyright of the bills, a counterfeiter is at risk of another six-month jail term and $25,000. If indicted, offenders can be sentenced to a jail term of up to five years and a fine up to $1,000,000.
Jonathan Hart shares some insight. “I said to a customer last week that we live in a great age. You don’t have to use cash. You can use your debit card. You can use your credit card. You can circumvent using cash altogether if you are worried about counterfeit bills.”
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