Slight increase in the number of counterfeits Slight upward trend in counterfeit banknotes

The distribution of counterfeits across the individual euro denominations in 2012 was as follows.

Notes5€ 10€20€50€ 100€ 200€500€ Gesamt
Per cent1%2%46%34%12%5%1% 100 %

Also with regard to 2012 as a whole, the largest increase in banknote counterfeits was in the case of the €20 note, the incidence of which rose by around 35% compared with 2011. A dampening effect was, however, exerted by developments in counterfeit €50 banknotes, the number of which fell by roughly 16% year on year.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

It is advisable to check banknotes carefully at all times, as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

Checks should always include multiple security features, as a banknote can be identified as authentic only by examining a combination of the various features.

  • For example, raised print on the front of the banknotes (“BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP” near the top edge) can be identified by touch.
  • The watermark becomes visible in the unprinted area when the banknote is held against the light.
  • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted.
  • On the back of the banknote, the glossy stripe (denominations up to €20) or the change in colour of the value numeral on the right-hand side (denominations from €50 upwards) can be checked by tilting the banknote.

When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable to compare it with one that is known to be genuine, for example a banknote withdrawn from an ATM.

Checking banknotes using a magnifying glass, counterfeit detector marker or an ultraviolet lamp does not always produce a clear-cut test result. It is therefore better to combine use of these tools with a check of other security features.

Virtually no change in the number of counterfeit coins

In 2012, approximately 52,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, which is virtually on a level with the figure for the previous year (around 52,700). Annually, there are thus around six counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations and were distributed in 2012 as follows.

Coins50 Cent 1€2€Gesamt
Per Cent5%16%79% 100 %

At 29,527, the number of counterfeit coins in the second half of 2012 was higher than that registered in the first half of the year (22,405).

Check coins for authenticity

Counterfeit euro coins can usually be distinguished from genuine coins only after a very thorough visual check. The following pointers can make it easier to identify genuine coins.

  • On genuine euro coins, the motif stands out clearly from the background of the coin. By contrast, the image on counterfeit coins often appears blurred, and the surface of the coins may be uneven.
  • Counterfeits generally have a colour which differs slightly from genuine coins.
  • The edge inscriptions of genuine €2 coins are sharp. Those on counterfeit coins are frequently incomplete or irregular.
  • Genuine €1 and €2 coins are only slightly magnetic. They remain attracted to the magnet but can be removed again with a minimum of effort. Counterfeit coins, on the other hand, are usually either non-magnetic or are strongly attracted to magnets.

Counterfeit prevention

Through its branch network, the Bundesbank provides training courses free of charge for the banking industry, retailers and any other interested parties. Participants are given typical counterfeits to test using the “feel, look and tilt” method. Contact details for the branches may be found at "Internal Link".

In addition, information (in the form of brochures and posters) and a new interactive learning program entitled “Detecting Counterfeits” (Falschgeld erkennen) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. Information on this subject may be found at the Bundesbank's website, the European Central Bank's website or the German police force's website, all of which are updated regularly.

To ensure that important information concerning people who bring counterfeits into circulation is not lost, the Bundesbank strongly advises that you notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins immediately and hand them to the police.