The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua says an urban myth picking up speed in Christchurch has genuine banknotes being refused and damaged, and honest Cantabs accused of passing counterfeits.
“People are being told that you can tell a fake banknote by scraping it with a coin, and if the printing comes off revealing the plastic then it’s a fake. This is completely false, not one of our recommended ways to check a banknote, and actually illegal defacement”, says Peter Northcote from the Bank’s Money and Cash Department.
“This fake test actually highlights one of the security strengths of our banknotes, being the polymer base they’re printed on. A genuine banknote won’t tear from the edge, whereas almost all fakes will as these are usually made with ordinary paper and feel different in the hand. Other simple checks are for sharp printing, an intact embossed window, and the rolling sparkle on the small bird in the corner of notes with the large window.
“Occasionally you might come across a banknote that’s a little worn or has lost printing on a fold line showing plastic underneath, but that’s not a sign of a fake. Worn and damaged banknotes are identified and removed from circulation when they pass through the cash handling machines working for banks and major retailers,” says Mr Northcote.
New Zealand has a very low rate of counterfeiting by international standards, with all fake notes easily identified by using the quick and simple recommended tests, as outlined on the Reserve Bank’s website.