As part of a regular series to help retailers negotiate pitfalls and make the most of new sales opportunities, RN offers advice on telling counterfeit currency from the genuine article.

Look for security features

Along with the watermark and the unique feel of the paper, two elements make genuine currency easy to distinguish from fakes. Firstly, there is raised print on all notes. The main areas of the ‘Bank of England’ text at the top and the Queen’s portrait. Additionally £20 notes and new-style £50 notes have raised print around the number in the bottom right-hand corner. Metallic thread is embedded in every note. It appears as silver dashes on the back of £5, £10 and £20 notes and is fully embedded in £50 notes.

Test them under UV light

There are features on all notes which are clearly visible when placed under UV light. On £5 and £10 notes, they appear in the bottom left hand corner. On the £20 and £50 note, they appear at the top in the middle. Bright green and red flecks are spread on the front and back of both notes.

What to do if you discover a note

The Bank of England says that retailers play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of UK cash cycle. It asks that any fake notes are reported to police immediately. If you are given a fake note, there are three things to remember:

1 Retail the note without putting staff at risk

2 Give the customer a receipt explaining the note will be handed to police and, if genuine, they will be reimbursed

3 Call police and hand them the note or take it to a police station later if necessary

The police will send the note to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. After investigation, it will be sent to the Bank of England for analysis.