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How can I prevent check fraud?

  • Sometimes life is just like the movies: and committing check fraud by digging through your garbage searching for canceled or old checks, practicing forgery or using desktop publishing to create or duplicate financial documents does occur. However, the good news is that it is pretty easy to protect yourself from some of the common ways that criminals get access to your information and make you prey to check fraud. Here are a few easy tips:

    • Store all of your checking account paperwork: checks, deposit slips, bank statements, and cancelled checks in a locked area: a filing cabinet, lock box, etc.
    • Safeguard your credit card receipts and credit card convenience checks; the receipt may prove important in the event that when your statement arrives and the amount you were charged is different than the amount on your receipt.
    • Always reconcile your bank statement within 30 days of receipt, making sure that the amount on the bank statement is the amount you can prove that you paid on your receipts.
    • Safeguard your checking account information, ATM card, and PIN as much as you do any other personal identification information. Don’t share that information even with a family member by asking them to take your ATM card to pick up some cash for you.
    • If your home is burglarized, be sure to look through your check supplies closely. Often times criminals take one or two checks from the middle or back of the book, so it will take you longer to realize that some of your checks have been taken.
    • Avoid using your checks or deposit slips as scratch paper.
    • Don’t write your check out to cash; if your wallet or purse is stolen, anyone can take that check to a bank to get your cash.
    • Don’t leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines.
    • Don’t write your credit card number on the check.
    • Don’t ever endorse a check until you are at the counter ready to get cash or make the deposit – the information can be altered if it is lost or stolen.
    • Shred all bank-related documents before throwing away; even if the account is closed.