Fraud professionals have become increasingly skilled and
sophisticated, thanks to advances in technology. Criminals today
can defraud you and your financial institution quite easily with a blank
check taken from your checkbook, a cancelled check found in your
garbage, or a check you mailed to pay a bill. Therefore, it is important
to follow a common-sense, logical approach with the way you use and
store your checks.
1. Make sure your checks are endorsed
by your financial institution and incorporate security features that
help combat counterfeiting and alteration.
2. Store your checks, deposit slips,
bank statements and cancelled checks in a secure and locked location.
Never leave your checkbook in your vehicle or in the open.
3. Reconcile your bank statement within
30 days of receipt in order to detect any irregularities. Otherwise, you
may become liable for any losses due to check fraud.
4. Never give your account number to
people you do not know, especially over the phone. Be particularly
aware of unsolicited phone sales. Fraud artists can use your account
without your authorization and you may end up being responsible.
5. Unless needed for tax purpose,
destroy old cancelled checks, account statements, deposit tickets, ATM
receipts (they also frequently have your account number and worse yet,
your account balance). The personal information on it may help someone
impersonate you and take money from your account.
6. When you receive your check order,
make sure all of the checks are there, and that none are missing.
Report missing checks to your bank at once. Should you fail to receive
your order by mail, alert your bank. Checks could have been stolen from
your mailbox or lost in transit.
7. If your home is burglarized, check
your supply of checks to determine if any have been stolen. Look
closely, because thieves will sometimes take only one or two checks from
the middle or back of the book. The longer it takes to detect any of
your checks have been taken, the more time the criminal has to use them
8. If someone pays you with a cashier's
check, have them accompany you to the bank to cash it. If at all
possible, only accept a check during normal business hours so you can
verify whether it is legitimate. Make sure you obtain identification
information from the individual.
9. Do not mail bills from your mailbox
at night. It is a favorite location from which a criminal can gain
possession of your check with the intent to defraud you. Criminals will
remove a check from your mailbox and either endorse it using bogus
identification, photocopy and cash it repeatedly, scan and alter the
check or chemically alter it. The Post Office is the best location
from which to send your bill payment.
10. Limit the amount of personal
information on your check. For example, do not include your Social
Security, driver's license or telephone numbers on your check. A
criminal can use this information to literally steal your identity by
apply for a credit card or loan in your name, or even open a new
11. Don't leave blank spaces on the
payee and amount lines.
12. The type of pen you use makes a
difference. Most ballpoint and marker inks are dye based, meaning that
the pigments are dissolved in the ink. But, based on ink security
studies, gel pens, like the Uniball 207 uses gel ink that contains tiny
particles of color that are trapped into the paper, making check washing
a lot more difficult.
13. Don't write your credit card number
on the check.
14. Use your own pre-printed deposit
slips, and make sure the account number on your slip is correct. Thieves
occasionally alter deposit slips in the hope that you won't notice and
the money goes into their account.
15. Don't make a check payable to cash.
If lost or stolen, the check can be cashed by anyone.
16. Never endorse a check until you are
ready to cash or deposit it. The information can be altered if it is
lost or stolen.
Resource: National Check Fraud Center