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Biannual information on the counterfeiting of the euro

13 January 2005

In the second half of 2004, a total of 287,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation, both in euro area and in non-euro area countries. This figure is to be compared with that for the first half of the year, when around 307,000 counterfeits were recovered. Thus, the total for the year 2004 as a whole was around 594,000 counterfeits. Although this is an increase of about 8% on the 2003 figure, the recent trend has been downwards.

The breakdown by denomination is as follows:

€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500 Total
Breakdown by denomination (in %) 1 5 24 48 17 4 1 100%

These figures should be seen in the context of the number of genuine banknotes in circulation (around 9 billion).

The public can be confident of the quality of the euro banknotes and their security features. However, the Eurosystem, i.e. the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 12 national central banks of the euro area, continues to advise the public to be alert to the possibility of receiving a counterfeit. The vast majority of counterfeit euro banknotes can be easily distinguished from genuine ones by using the simple FEEL-LOOK-TILT test described in the Eurosystem’s information material. An explanation of this test can be found on the ECB’s website[1]. Even well-made counterfeits can be detected by carefully applying this method. In cases of doubt, a suspect banknote should be compared with one that is known to be genuine.

The Eurosystem cooperates very closely with Europol, Interpol, the European Commission (which is responsible for the dissemination of information on counterfeit euro coins) and national police forces in the fight against counterfeiting. Anyone who receives a counterfeit is urged to hand it in either to the police, giving as many details as possible regarding its origin, or to the respective national central bank, where national practice allows for this.

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