How to Stop Check Fraud and Check Washing
Check washing, a highly common form of check fraud, is the practice of removing legitimate check information, especially the “Pay To” name and the amount, and replacing it with data beneficial to the criminal (his own name or a larger amount) through chemical or electronic means. One of the many ways to protect yourself against check fraud is so important that it deserves its very own article.
A foolproof way to protect your checks from being altered, whether by washing or by electronic means, is to use security checks offered by most companies.
Here are some of the features to look for when you’re purchasing High Security Checks. These features will safeguard you not only against check washing, but other high tech forms of check fraud as well:
- Safety security paper (visible and invisible fluorescent fibers, chemical-sensitive)
- Foil hologram (cannot be reproduced by copiers or scanners)
- High resolution border elements (intricate design is difficult to reproduce)
- True watermark (cannot be reproduced by copiers or scanners)
- Toner adhesion (damage is visible if toner is lifted or scraped)
- Void element (the word void appears if photocopied or chemically altered)
- False positive test area (instant authenticity test with black light or counterfeit pen)
- Complex pantograph background pattern and high-security colors
- Thermochromatic ink (reacts to heat to deter copying)
- Original document backing (deters cut and paste alteration attempts)
- Chemical wash detection area (shows chemical alteration attempts)
- Security warning box (becomes visible when photocopied)
- Padlock icon (signifies that checks meet industry standards)
One more vital tip to foil the check washers: use a dark ink, gel-based pen, preferably one that states it is a security pen. Take a look at the video to the left to see how easy it is to wash a check if you are not using a high security gel-based pen.
Yes, you may spend a few extra dollars for security checks and pens, but compared to the staggering cost of recovering from check-washing schemes (small businesses lose more than 7% of their annual revenue to check fraud – over $600 billion), it’s a drop in the bucket! Your peace of mind and saved recovery time are worth it.
Checks Unlimited provides personal Securiguard checks with 7 advanced security features including chemical protective paper, microprint signature lines, and a 2 dimensional holographic foil that is irreproducible on copiers or scanners. Their Security Center also offers fraud prevention tips and security products!
John Sileo is CEO of The Sileo Group, and a keynote speaker on cyber security, identity theft and business fraud prevention. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.