Protect Yourself Against Check Fraud
Here are some things that you should do to help protect yourself against check fraud:
- Use checks that include Enhanced Check Security Features. These checks will have a small padlock icon following the word "Dollars" on the front of the check. This ensures that at least three security features are included in the check, one of which must protect against counterfeiting and one of which that will protect against alteration.
- Do not have your Social Security or driver’s license number imprinted on the checks. Combined with other information on the check, this could give a thief enough information to apply for a loan, credit card or phoney bank account in your name.
- Reconcile your account statements each month and immediately notify your financial institution of any suspicious or unauthorized checks or withdrawals.
- Treat your checkbook like you treat money. Guard your checkbook and report lost or stolen checks immediately.
- Notify your bank or credit union if you order checks and don’t receive them in a reasonable amount of time, or if checks are missing.
- Don't leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines. Write details as close together as possible, avoid abbreviations and draw lines to fill any gaps. Otherwise, it’s easy to alter your check. A check payable to IBM, for example, could be changed to read I.B. Moony.
- Use dark ink, never light colors or pencil that can be easily erased or covered over.
- Don't make a check payable to "Cash." If it is lost or stolen, it can be cashed by anyone.
- Never endorse a check until you are ready to cash or deposit it. Preferably, deposited checks should be endorsed "For deposit only" and your account number should be included. That way, if the check is lost or stolen it can’t be cashed.
- Don't throw out cancelled checks, unused deposit slips, old bank statements, or credit card and ATM receipts. Tear them into at least eight pieces and destroy them as best you can, and consider using a shredder. A thief could use these items to make new checks.
- Don't give your checking account number or the numbers at the bottom of your checks to people you don’t know. Never give out your checking account number over the telephone or the Internet unless you agree to pay for something, and suspect fraud if a telemarketer says a checking account number is needed. Reveal checking account information only to businesses you know to be reputable.