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Can Writing Personal Checks Expose You to Fraud?

The thrill of risk. You might love it when water skiing, playing competitive sports, or skydiving.

But you probably don’t want it in your day-to-day financial transactions.

According to the Nilson Report, Global brand card fraud reached $21.57 billion in 2017, up 6.9% from $20.18 billion in 2016. With fraudsters beginning to target digital payment channels more heavily, and financial institutions improving their processing of checks, you might think you’re out of the woods on check fraud risk. But, The Federal Trade Commission has starkly advised personal account holders that counterfeit check scams are on the rise. With this risk in mind, banks are employing extensive security for patrons’ accounts, with innovative imaging, advanced analytics, and increased scrutiny of transactions. Consumers also have greater control over their accounts, easily accessing and monitoring spending right from their phone.

But, like all payment methods, paying by check does carry the risk of fraud. So how should you protect yourself from nefarious actions by check fraud foes?

Most importantly, make sure your checks are high-quality with extensive security features that make them hard to copy or counterfeit. Only buy checks from reputable printers who use top-tier security features. There is a huge difference in check quality from one retailer to another, especially when considering security features. ASAP Checks is an industry leader in offering you the most security features available at an affordable cost.

The following features are standard on all our printed checks and blank check paper.

  • TouchGuardTM - on the back of each check, we include a fingerprint symbol printed using thermochromic (color change) ink. When you rub or breathe on the fingerprint, the color fades and sometime after you stop, the color returns.
  • Toner Grip - if you print checks using a laser printer, the toner can be removed from the check very easily, allowing a crook to remove and replace or alter the payee, amount, etc.. Unless the check paper is treated with a "toner-fusing" coating such as ASAP Checks uses.
  • Tracing Code - each time we run a batch of check paper, a unique code for the batch is included on each page. This allows us to work with law enforcement to narrow down who may have made a fraudulent purchase.
  • Invisible Fibers - these will glow under black light, something that cannot be reproduced.
  • Chemical Protection - brown stains and black dye appear when chemicals are used to remove/alter the check.
  • True Watermark - immediately apparent when you hold the paper up to light. This cannot be reproduced by color copier, scanner or printer.
  • Micro-printing - printing that is so tiny that it looks like a line but when magnified you can see it is actually text that is so tiny that it cannot be reproduced by copiers, scanners and printers. On our security designs, the "line" underneath the border on the top is microprinted. On our other designs, the rectangle around the padlock on the face of the check is microprinted.
  • Partial Features List - on the back of the check, alerts tellers and recipients of checks that security features exist which can be used to verify that the check is an original. Some "covert" features are intentionally not listed to help deter a crooks' attempt to counterfeit.
  • Void Pantograph - some photocopiers and scanners will show VOID in large letters when copying/scanning checks with our security designs.
  • Stub/Voucher Void Text - we print some Void text on the back of stubs/vouchers to prevent a crook from using it to produce a counterfeit check.
  • Padlock - we are licensed by the CPSA (Check Payment Systems Association) to print this symbol on our checks, confirming the inclusion of security features that they recommend.

We are all in uncharted territory when it comes to the importance of data security, especially considering all the new ways thieves can use to get access to your private financial information. You’ll hear Monday that digital payments are the safest, then on Wednesday you’ll read about a data breach at your favorite large retailer, leaving you to question what’s really the safest way to pay. You watch your accounts, keep an eye on your credit, and make sure gas station pumps have the security “anti-skimmer” sticker before swiping. But, what can you do to protect yourself from check fraud, which is just one of many ways fraudsters may use to steal your information? Start with high-quality checks with extensive security features. From there, be diligent in watching your account and shred all old or unused checks. Do not leave checks or bank statements visible to anyone. Use a mail slot instead of a mailbox if possible when paying by check. Keep a record of your next check number and last check number, so you can detect if someone has removed a check from your checkbook. To reduce your risk of identity theft, do not include personal information on your checks, e.g. social insurance number, phone number or driver's license number.

Want more fraud prevention tips? Check out our fraud prevention page:

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