Lunar New Year forgery alert issued The central bank has warned commercial banks and financial institutions on the mainland to watch out for counterfeit banknotes ahead of the Lunar New Year. 'All financial institutions must step up training of their frontline cashiers on knowledge of and skill in fake banknote detection ... so that they can intercept forged notes promptly and accurately,' the People's Bank of China said in a statement posted on its website yesterday, two days before Lunar New Year's eve, the beginning of a week of holidays that is traditionally a time of spending sprees. Commercial banks could upgrade their equipment, such as cash detection devices, to improve their ability to distinguish counterfeits, the central bank said. '[Commercial banks] must further better their service facilities, changing and upgrading the relevant devices and equipment in time,' it said. These measures 'aimed to effectively fight against fake banknotes and safeguard the credibility and reputation of China's currency, the renminbi', it added. News of fake yuan notes widely circulating have been hogging the headlines this month, rousing anxiety across the mainland. As a measure of public attention on the issue, young Chinese have coined a new festive greeting - on top of the traditional 'happy new year' - of 'be careful not to receive fake money and not to catch cold'. The central bank has ordered commercial banks to better share their knowledge in combating fake banknotes with the public, especially among the elderly and migrant workers, two of the groups most susceptible to accepting fake money. Commercial banks have been asked to set up billboards and other displays in their lobbies to tell their customers how to recognise the fake notes. Although the central bank last week denied the existence of a new tide of fake banknotes in the market and held that the volume of fake money was normal compared with previous years, people's confidence in the bills was apparently shaken. 'One of my friends got a fake 100-yuan bill out of the ATM at a bank in Beijing days ago, and he reported this to the bank, but they refused to admit the bill was from their machine,' said Maria Deborah de Jesus Ostani, the clinical project manager for Novo Nordisk (China) Pharmaceuticals, as she carefully double-checked the banknotes she had just withdrawn from an ATM at a street corner in the central business district in Beijing. 'Since that case, I have formed a habit of carefully examining each bank bill every time I take them from the ATM to see whether they carry serial numbers leading with 'HD' and 'HB'.' The vast majority of the fake banknotes with par values of millions of yuan seized over the past weeks carry serial numbers headed 'HD' and 'HB', making them a quick and easy symbol of detecting fake bills. 'We are going to start a one-month long campaign after the Lunar New Year to teach our customers how to detect the fake bills,' said Wen Hao , a cashier manager at a China Everbright Bank outlet in Beijing.