Look out for phoney R200 notes

2010-05-08 00:00

CONSUMERS could be left severely out of pocket if they receive counterfeit R200 notes from banks or via other sources.

The problem of the seemingly widespread prevalence of counterfeit R200 notes appears to have intensified in recent weeks, with complaints streaming in from Pietermaritzburg residents who have unknowingly received these notes.

Counterfeits seem to have infected the “cash system” and some consumers told The Witness that they have not had the counterfeit notes replaced with authentic notes when lodging complaints at banks.

FNB corporate communications manager Steve Higgins told The Witness that customers who are in possession of a fake R200 note may present this, with their FNB ATM slip, to the FNB branch nearest to the ATM where each instance will be investigated on a case-by-case basis.

“There is no blanket policy to exchange fake notes for legitimate notes,” said Higgins.

Standard Bank’s spokesman Ross Linstrom told The Witness that there is an obligation on the recipient to ensure that they are receiving a valid note.

“The consumer is then advised to hand these [fake] notes over at the nearest SA Police Force [station] or SA Reserve Bank branch.”

Linstrom added that the bank will only act on a claim if it is satisfied with the validity of the claim.

“The customer’s ATM receipt would certainly assist in the query resolution. The bank’s obligation is to assess each claim carefully.

“Unfortunately, there are cases where attempts are made to exchange counterfeits which have been acquired elsewhere rather than through ATMs,” Linstrom said.

Linstrom urged consumers to approach the banking ombudsman if they are unhappy with the initial outcome.

Linstrom said that if consumers find out by some other means (other than through the bank) that they are in possession of fake R200 notes, the consumer will unfortunately bear the loss at the point of exchange.

Higgins said that FNB and SBV — a company providing cash processing and transport services — have already reset the configurations on their note-checking machines to remove counterfeit R200 notes from circulation.

“Counterfeit notes will not be loaded into an FNB ATM and will not be offered to a customer. In addition, only a very small percentage of FNB’s 4 500 bank-note issuing ATMs and ADTs [Automated Deposit Tellers] issue R200 notes,” Higgins said.

According to Nedbank’s divisional executive: self service banking, George Chirwa, the counterfeiting problem appears to pertain mainly to old series R200 denominations.

Chirwa said although many business owners have displayed notices regarding non-acceptance of the legal R200 notes, this should not be occurring.

“While many businesses have been affected by fake notes, this stance portrays a lack of understanding in terms of the SA Reserve Bank’s plea for business owners and consumers to acquaint themselves with security features of these and all notes in general.

“In terms of the legality thereof, legal tender may not be refused and should be reported to the SARB if encountered. It is advisable for business owners to invest in a quality note verifier to distinguish fake notes from original,” Chirwa said.

Attempts to gain comment from the SARB yesterday proved unsuccessful.

• Counterfeit R200 notes are signed in orange and are written “president governor”, while legitimate ones are signed in grey/black and written “governor” at the bottom of the signature;

• The counterfeit note has a big R200 printed on the top right hand corner of the governor’s signature, while the real note has R200 printed on the top left and bottom right corners, using smaller fonts;

• The counterfeit note is about three millimetres shorter than the real note;

• The silver strip that runs across the R200 note is thinner on the counterfeit note and thicker on the real note;

• The counterfeit notes are more orange in colour than the real notes.

 

Readers can visit the SARB’s website www.reservebank.co.za for further information on bank notes.

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