We recently talked about the 5 reasons people still use checks on our blog, which highlights the fact that, though check use continues to decline, it is still a popular payment choice for many people. And because identity theft and check fraud have been on the rise for the last several years, we wanted to give you some tips for preventing check fraud.
Keep Checks and Records Safe
One of the first things you need to do, as an individual or a business, is to safely store your checks. It seems only natural to leave your checks in your purse, on your kitchen table or in your office, or in other easily accessible, but high traffic, areas.
Whether you leave them at home or work, and even if you trust those closest to you, there are always people who come in and out of those spaces who may see an opportunity in your forgetfulness or comfort with your surroundings.
It’s also important to keep good records of your checks. You can do this with the register that comes in your pack of paper checks, or you can do it on your phone, computer, or other software programs, but you need to make sure these files are as secure as your checks.
Only Give Out Checks and Checking Account Information When Necessary
When possible, use other, more secure forms of payment like cash, or a debit or credit card. Checks carry a lot of personal information – something cash and plastic don’t do.
As for your checking account information, the same safety measures apply to them as to your savings accounts and other banking information. Be careful not to give out your checking account information unless you trust the person or business who is asking for it. Make sure you ask what is needed, and what is optional. Remember, you always have multiple payment options. And the best practice is to use the payment method that seems safest for the situation you are in.
Be Studious in Checking Your Balances
When it comes to your physical health, they say one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment. The same sentiment can be applied to your financial health as well. If you are studious in recording your account information and check-based transactions, you can stop many fraud attempts before they become too messy to handle.
The best practice is to check your accounts daily to make sure no unauthorized payments are coming out of your accounts. With regards to bigger accounts – like those for a small business for example – make sure you or a trusted employee is auditing your accounts at least once a week. If something seems strange, let the involved parties know right away. This includes your bank, place of work, the company you did business with, and the authorities if need be.
Limit the Personal Information You Print or Write on Your Checks
The only pre-printed personal information that should be on a standard set of checks is your name and address. It’s a common practice to put phone numbers or email addresses on there as well, but you should refrain from doing so, in the event that your check or checkbook gets lost or stolen.
If the person receiving your check – either for themselves or on behalf of a business – requests additional information, write it on the check manually, and make sure you are in a secure area. Many businesses will write it on there for you, right before they secure your check in a safe or cash register.
If It’s An Online Payment, Make Sure It’s Secure
Whether you are processing checks, credit cards, ACH, or recurring payments, ReliaFund’s Electronic Payment Services payment processing platform can help simplify things with our 100% in-house, end-to-end platform that streamlines payments across online and mobile.
Contact us to learn more.