France warned to check for fake banknotes of €5-€50

The majority of fake banknotes are for smaller amounts up to €20 or €50

Shoppers in France are being warned to check for fake banknotes, especially for notes of €5, €10, €20 and €50, the national gendarmerie has said.

The alert comes after the gendarmerie was informed of a rise in payments made with fake notes.

The notes are often good quality, it warned, but they can sometimes be revealed as fakes due to slightly incorrect details, or the wrong texture.

In January 2019, the European Central Bank (ECB) - the central bank of euro currency countries - warned that there were 22 million fake euro banknotes in circulation. It said it had pulled 262,000 fakes from circulation in the second half of 2018.

It said that 85% of fake notes are thought to be of €20 and €50, and just 2.5% are for larger bills, such as €200 or €500.

If you believe that you have a fake banknote, you should contact the police or the central national bank. You may then be asked to present the note to your local bank or to the Banque de France, where it will be checked.

The gendarmerie issued some tips on checking banknotes:

  • Touch and texture: Real banknotes have a unique texture due to their security relief printing
  • Transparency and visuals: Real notes have transparency, a watermark, and a security number clearly marked
  • Turning over: Real notes have a changing hologram image on the front, and a bright strip or “colour-changing” number on the back

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