5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

Know 5 things to know before writing your next check; Although many people may feel like sending checks in the mail has become a relic

5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

Know 5 things to know before writing your next check; Although many people may feel like sending checks in the mail has become a relic of the past, millions of individuals and businesses still rely on check printing and processing for their financial needs. In fact, with millions of checks still written each and every day in the United States, it’s safe to say that checks are alive and well in the 21st century.

5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

While checks are preferable to many other payment methods for several reasons, there still exists the potential for check fraud that can risk your personal information and your funds. So, that’s why it’s important to take certain precautions before writing and sending checks – whether you’re an individual or a business. So, here, we’re taking a closer look at some important things to know before you write your very next check. Taking these simple precautions could, in the long run, save you a lot of time, energy, and potentially even money

What Exactly is Check Fraud?

For as long as we’ve had checks, we’ve had check fraud. But what exactly is this threat? Well, let’s break it down first. Fraud happens when someone intentionally or deliberately deprives another entity of funds through deceptive and malicious practices. Therefore, we can understand check fraud as any action when fraud is committed through the use of a check. Additionally, stealing someone’s checks; or altering the information found on the check can also count as a common type of check fraud.

Despite check features and advanced security measures, fraudsters continue to develop their own advancements to get around these measures.

The most common types of check scams

  • Theft: when someone steals a check with the intent to use it, this is considered check fraud. So, this is just one reason why it’s so important to secure your paper checks in a safe place so that your funds and information remain secure.
  • Forgery: this type of check fraud happens someone forges their name or an endorsement onto a paper check. With certain tools, checking Forgery is easier than it might first appear. 
  • Check to kite: this common type of check fraud involves two separate bank accounts. The fraudster will first write a fraudulent check from one of these accounts. So, they will withdraw the funds from the second account before the bank has the time or resources to acknowledge the fraudulent check.
  • Chemical alteration: also known as “check washing,” this method of fraud refers to the act when someone uses special chemicals to actually physically wash out information on the check. The fraudster can then change the information and write the check to themselves or alter the total amount of cash on it.
  • Paperhanging: another type of check fraud; Paperhanging happens when someone purposefully writes a bad check from their bank account. They do so knowing that the funds are not there. This usually occurs in new accounts that are established for the sole purpose of committing check fraud, and banks try to set alerts for these. 

5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

Check fraud remains a real threat, but there are some things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of experiencing check fraud.

Before writing your next check, do the following:

  1. Never leave blank spaces: leaving part of your blank check leaves it more vulnerable to Forgery. Always completely fill out your check to the payee and double-check to ensure that the information is accurate.
  2. Use dark ink: using dark ink (never use a pencil) can make it much harder for a potential fraudster to alter or erase the information on your check.
  3. Never make your check payable to cash: if someone finds or steals this type of check; it means anyone can simply cash it.
  4. Don’t add extra personal information: never add more personal information than is required on a check.
  5. Use your local post office: it’s much easier to steal a check from a personal mailbox than it is if you drop it off at your local post office or UPS store. 

How Do They Make Checks Safe?

Banks and other financial institutions work hard to make check payments safer by writing checks to prevent check fraud. One method is by working on the physical check itself and adding more advanced check security features. These features make it much harder for a fraudster to alter or change any information and, thus, commit check fraud.

Some of the most common (and effective) check security features include:

  • Microprinting.
  • Watermarks.
  • Warning borders.
  • Chemically reactive paper.
  • Toner adhesion.
  • Security back printing.
  • Thermochromatic ink.
  • Prismatic printing.
  • Visible fibers.

And that’s just the beginning. If you’re interested in using checks safely with these security measures or simply want to know if your current checks have any of these advanced features, simply reach out to your financial institution or bank. They’ll tell you about how they work to make your checks more secure and safe to use. 

Conclusion – 5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Next Check

Next time you go to right a check, take a second and think about the steps you’re actively taking to make this transaction safer and more secure. While we may not realize it, check fraud is still a prominent issue in the world of finance; and accounts for the loss of millions of dollars. Whether you’re a business conducting payroll or simply sending a check to a family member in the mail; your funds may be vulnerable to advanced methods of check fraud.

Banks continue to create and utilize advanced check security measures to help reduce the risk of check fraud. Using thermochromatic ink, micro printing, warning borders, visible fibers, and more, checks have become much more secure and harder to commit fraud. As such, checks are one of the safest ways to send or receive money, whether you are an individual or a business. Safe, secure, and reliable: for these reasons and more, people will continue to use checks for many years to come.