Checking banknotes for fakes

Hey everyone :wave:

I’m just about to sell a phone on gumtree and the buyer would like to pay cash - any advice?

I usually avoid cash but in this case I don’t really have a choice (bank transfer might not be any safer - it can still be a hacked account and the transfer might get reversed). Do you know how can I check the notes to make sure they’re not counterfeit?

Would I be able to just walk into a random bank branch and ask them to check the bills?

Thanks :+1:t2:

Not sure if a random branch would let you do this?

But you can do (I believe?) 7-10 checks yourself on notes to ensure they’re not counterfeit :slight_smile:

The feel of it, checking you can see the Queen when holding the note up to a light, looking at the edges of the font (not fuzzy) a UV light will trigger patterns etc.

Plenty of results on Google too :slight_smile:

I can’t see why you can’t ask a bank to check the notes (we don’t use bills, that’s an American thing), but knowing banks they might get grumpy about it if you try.

Don’t take £20 or £50 notes and you’ll lessen your chances of getting stung. That said, I’ve never had an issue.

Note, if you do end up with a dud and then try to spend it knowing it to be fake, you’ll be guilty of an offence, under section 15 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, so don’t try it.

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Just go to the bank with them and pay it in then give the phone over

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Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.

@anon23935806, tell the buyer to apply for a Monzo card and come back when he has it. Then transfer via a Monzo-Monzo payment. :wink:

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Given we aren’t in the US or Japan, it’s unlikely you could ask them to check the bills :slight_smile:

I agree with @anon72173902 - if you feel uncomfortable, have them meet you at your bank and have them hand over the notes!

…Isn’t this suppose to be for the situations like this?

The pens are only detecting starch. They’ll show you really poor quality fakes, but not good fakes.

Look no further than the Bank of England itself!

£5 note:

£10 note:

£20 and £50 notes:


Why not sell it on eBay instead so you have buyer protection? I personally would not trust Gumtree at all.


The horrific eBay and PayPal fees you get stung with come to mind…

I’m not a fan of PayPal, since they turned $75 into £48 after all their fees. Completely ridiculous.

(For reference, at the time I got it, $75 was worth about £52, so they profited by about £4)


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The whole point of Gumtree is to take cash :thinking:

Reason being is Bank Transfer they can just reverse by claiming it was fraud or a mistake. No Security there and they got the item.

I sell quite a few items on Gumtree usually to avoid the hassle of eBay/PayPal Fees and Posting when cash in hand is easier plus people coming to pick it up from mine.

Not sure how much water this held in practice. With all the additional scrutiny and security features (in some countries) higher value notes get, I’m fairly sure it’d be the lower value ones you’d forge because though harder to distribute, nobody looked twice at a £5/£10 note…

I wonder if this is why they changed them to the polymers first…

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I think that it may also be true that if you are given a note you find to be fake, it is illegal to give it back (which could be awkward).

My sister paid me her split for a meal, in cash, about 3 months ago.

The cash has been sitting on my bedside table ever since. I only ever carry cards and my wallet is literally just a card holder one, so I forget to take it out. It’s not enough money to warrant making a trip to wherever the heck my nearest legacy branch is. Probably in the city centre, which I don’t generally visit in day time hours when banks are open.

Point being - I hate cash :joy:

I was in India a few years back for a music video shoot in Delhi with my band. We realised that Amazon India allows you to pay cash on delivery. If that was an option here I’d just do that to get rid of it.


Thinking this through, this makes more sense and I think you’d be right.

I think I mentioned higher denominations as I’ve only ever come across fake £20 notes. But that’s my own experience and not necessarily representative.

Simon, message me your address and I’ll send a stamped addressed envelope. Place the cash in the envelope and send it to me. I’ll take care of it so that you don’t have to be troubled by it.


Sure thing, feel free to P2P the value and it’s a done deal. There’s a cool feature in the Monzo app for doing just that :grin:


If they look and feel genuine I wouldn’t worry about getting them checked. Before they went plastic-y, i’m sure I’ve probably cashed a ton of fake ones after emptying arcade machines (as a job).

People would try and swap obvious fakes sometimes for pound coins, but then you just refuse them. Checking £50 notes is always interesting, you can usually feel if they aren’t right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a new un-creased £50, they always have some wear in them.