Check fraud is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon. The bottom line is that as technology improves, thieves will find new ones to game the system and cheat honest people out of their hard-earned money.
Fortunately for the honest folks out there, those advancements are a two-way street. As criminals get smarter, so does the everyday consumer. And the same technology that those criminals can use to their advantage, the rest of us can use right back.
And even without all that fancy technology, there are some tried and true methods that can be used to stop check thieves in their tracks.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Check Fraud?
Here are a few ways you can be safe and prevent check fraud from happening:
• Store all of your blank personal checks, business checks, canceled checks and even bank statements in a secure place, such as a locked safe or file cabinet that locks. This leaves you far less vulnerable to check fraud.
• Keep track of any checks you have ordered from your bank or credit union. If they fail to show up within a reasonable time period, contact your financial institution.
• Immediately report any missing checks to your bank or credit union.
• If you have old canceled personal checks that you no longer need, you should shred them. Do the same with ATM receipts and bank account statements that you no longer need as well.
• Instead of having your mail delivered to your mailbox, consider having it sent to a post office box, especially if you aren’t able to immediately check your mail. If you have a visible mailbox at your home and no one is there, you can have financially sensitive documents sitting unattended for hours at a time. Some of those items may be checks, which can leave you vulnerable to thieves who can target you for check fraud as a result.
What Other Problems Can You Face With Stolen Checks?
Unfortunately, there is more than one type of crime revolving around checks. In addition to check fraud, there is also the threat of fake check scams. The Consumer Federation of America states that fake check scams occur when a person gives you a check or money order that appears real. The point is to get you to wire money to a location.
Sadly, the victim doesn’t realize the check or money order is a fake until it’s already been deposited or cashed. By then, it’s too late. The Consumer Federation of America reports that the monetary amount typically lost in such a scam can range from as much as $3,000 to $4,000.
How Can You Avoid The Most Common Fake Check Scams?
Certain types of fake check scams are growing increasingly popular. These are the most common that are on the rise, along with ways you can protect yourself from them.
• Lottery Winner Scams: If you receive a check in the mail with a statement that it is a payment for lottery winnings but you never played the lottery or even purchased tickets, take that as a red flag. You should also immediately take the check to your bank or credit union. You will be able to get advice on your options for dealing with the scam, which is generally an attempt to trick you into wiring money to a thief.
• Overpayment Scams: These are the types of scams that target consumers who are selling valuable items on Craigslist, auction sites and other websites that allow people to sell goods. The thief will send a bad check for an amount much higher than what the item was sold for, then will tell the recipient to cash the check and wire them back the difference. By the time the victim realized the original check was no good, it’s too late.
How Do You Ensure That Your Checks Are Safe?
It is important to keep your checks safe at all times so that you can avoid this growing type of fraud. All legitimate checks should include the following for safety purposes:
• Checks should be made up of chemically sensitive paper. This is to prevent check alteration.
• A microprint signature line should be present. It is made up a very small line of letters that can be seen while using a magnifying glass but that include an “MP” within the text.
• Security screen or very light printing on the back of the check with the text reversed and not easily duplicated by a scanner or printer.
• Padlock icon and warning box should be present. These alert consumers that there are security features included.
• Additional security features should be present, alerting the consumer of additional protection.
No matter what, you should always be careful with your checks and any other financial documents. It will help you to be a wiser consumer and keep you protected against check fraud and other types of financial scams.
Lucky for you, protecting your checks is easy when you order check from Checkworks. All Checkworks checks are protected by state of the art security features that exceed the requirements laid out by all financial institutions, giving you peace of mind.
Above content provided by Checkworks.