Convenience is the offspring of the twenty-first century. But even with the advancements afforded by technology, some still opt for more traditional methods. One such example is evident in the finance and banking industry. Despite the advent and development in online banking, many account holders still maintain the use of checks. In fact, roughly 15% of the nation’s population still depends on checks for executing transactions. These 15% are also the prime targets of one of the most damaging violations in the financial industry: check fraud.
Entrepreneur Weekly, an online business magazine, reports of an American Bankers Association data that says that there is a 25% annual growth rate of check fraud cases in the country. At this rate, check fraud is indeed a serious threat to the security and privacy of anyone-from the multi-million dollar company to the average wage earner.
However, even if you belong to that 15%, you still have the option not to fall into the trap of hoaxers and scammers. Here are some tips that, if all together applied, will help you stop check fraudsters from getting their swindling hands on you:
There are no exceptions
Create a tight policy on check acceptance. This policy should require associative information, a list of valid ID forms, and dollar limits. There should also be no exceptions to the rules. Remember that the greatest con artists are creative in finding ways of concocting situations that distract you into taking a bad check.
Feel the check with your hand
Get familiarized to the “feel” of a genuine check. This will allow you to spot the fakes, even just by mere touch of it. Fakes are usually lighter than the real ones. Moreover, most authentic checks, save for the government-issued ones, have perforated edges on at least one side.
Check for signs
Pay close attention to the check writer as he or she signs the check. Also, ask the customer to write his or her name below (in print), should the signature be illegible. Most of all, don’t forget to compare what he or she had written with the specimen signature in his or her information sheet.
Look at the numbers in the check
You could be familiar with the numbers written on the lower portion of your check. You may have also observed that their font differs from the others and wondered why this is so. Well, those series of numbers is called an MICR line. MICR means magnetic ink character recognition. These numbers are printed with the use of an MICR toner that possesses magnetic particles of the iron oxide additives variety. These additives allow the reader-sorter machines to read checks.
As a check is run through a reader-sorter, the MICR line scans across and causes the iron oxide to become magnetized, thus, emitting a signal. Then the check is read by a “magnetic read head.” Upon the contact of the magnetic head and the MICR line, an electromagnetic field, called a flux pattern, is detected. The current created by the flux pattern allows the MICR series to be processed and recognized by the machine. The potency of an MICR toner ensures the readability of your check’s MICR series. It is important to note the quality and appearance of the check’s MICR line. Most fraudulent checks use a different kind of ink to change the MICR number sequence of a check.
If used wisely, and maintained in all the check transactions you make, there is no chance in the world for you to fall victim to fake checks. Remember that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.