It's counterfeit! Now what do we do? - Part 3

May 31, 2012 | by D. B. "Libby" Libhart
It's counterfeit!  Now what do we do? - Part 3

The training of our employees in detecting counterfeit currency, or the device we use to authenticate currency, just paid off. A counterfeit bill is detected! So, what do we do now? Do we confront the passer? Refuse to accept it? Call the police? What's the next step?

According to the Public Affairs Office of the Secret Service, $78.7 million in counterfeit currency was passed in the U.S. last year. The threat to your business coming in contact with a counterfeit bill is high. Using bill authenticators may be in your loss prevention strategy. Training your employees on how to detect counterfeit, and what to do when it occurs is an essential element of loss prevention and cash management plans. Good training will avoid losses and protect your employees, the business, and the brand.

The Secret Service recommends the following procedures if you receive a counterfeit bill:

  • Do not return it to the passer.
  • Delay the passer if possible.
  • Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions, and the license plate numbers of any vehicles used.
  • If you have security cameras, note the time of the incident so the footage can be reviewed later. (added)
  • Contact your local police department or United States Secret Service field office. These numbers can be found on the inside front page of your local telephone directory.
  • Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.
  • Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.
  • Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent.

Keep in mind that when a counterfeit bill is accepted, the face value is lost. There is no reimbursement program. Some enterprising retailers and sole proprietors have attempted to avoid the loss of accepting a counterfeit bill by passing it along in change to their customers. The crime is a felony punishable up to 5 years imprisonment and/or up to a $10,000 fine. That strategy is ill advised.

Training your employees on how you want the incident handled before it happens, is important. The most likely time counterfeit is passed in a quick-serve or fast casual restaurant is during the rush times. Counterfeiters will take advantage of cashiers that may not scrutinize the bills closely because of the frenetic pace. It is important that employees be trained on how the incidents are to be handled while the customer is still there. They should not be accusatory or confrontational because the passer may an innocent victim as well. If the counterfeit is discovered some time later, the bill must be secured and protected. When counterfeit is discovered, the reaction of other employees may be, "Oooo, let me see it!" They handle the bill to get a closer look. The extra fingerprints may render a forensic examination of the bill more difficult and jeopardize identifying the passer.

Counterfeit is rising and fuels funding for the drug trade, organized crime and terrorism. Utilize the quick training tips in Part 1 of this series to give your employees some comfort in detecting phony bills. Analyze Part 2 on the different levels of technology in currency authentication that may be suitable for your business. Preventing the acceptance of counterfeit is the key to avoiding losses. Your employees knowing what to do when the incident occurs may be the most important aspect of all. If they are not proactively trained, they may act inappropriately and chaos may ensue at the most inopportune time. Your business may be disrupted to the point of losing much more than the face value of a counterfeit bill.

For more information on detecting counterfeit currency, visit:

For more information on security, safety, loss and crime prevention for restaurants, visit For daily tips on restaurant loss prevention, follow on Twitter @LossBusters.

Topics: Insurance / Risk Management, Loss Prevention, Operations Management, Staffing & Training

D. B. "Libby" Libhart
D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands. wwwView D. B. "Libby" Libhart's profile on LinkedIn

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