More than a fifth fewer fake euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation during the second half of last year than in the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the European Central Bank on Friday.
The ECB said that in the six months to the end of December, around 353,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were taken out of circulation, a slight increase on the figure for the first half of the year, but a more than 20 per cent decrease on the number removed in the same period of 2015.
Overall, the bank said that the currency remains incredibly safe: Over 19 billion genuine bank notes are currently in circulation, meaning that fakes are only known to account for a mere fraction.
Fake euro bank notes also seem to be less common than fake pound notes: The latest Bank of England figures available show that in the first half of 2016, around 152,000 counterfeit sterling notes were withdrawn from the over 3.5 billion in circulation.
Around 80 per cent of the euro counterfeits were €20 and €50 notes and the vast majority of the counterfeits—93.6 per cent—were found in countries that use the currency.
In its statement on Friday, the ECB also called upon the public to remain vigilant when receiving bank notes and to use what it calls the “feel, look and tilt method” of checking for authenticity. That involves identifying the “unique” feel of the bank note, holding it up against the light so that the portrait window, watermark and security thread become visible, and tilting it to make sure you can see the portrait of Europa—the mythological figure—in a transparent window.
“If you receive a suspect banknote, you should compare it directly with one you know is genuine,” it wrote. “If your suspicions are confirmed, you should contact the police or – depending on national practice – the respective national central bank or your own bank,” it added.
The ECB is due to launch a new €50 note on 4 April.
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