According to a recent survey by J.P. Morgan & Association for Financial Professionals, 75% of the organizations surveyed experienced check fraud in 2016. This is a reversal of the declining trend in check fraud since 2010 and an increase from 71% in 2015. Check fraud has been and still continues to be one of the payment methods most often exposed to fraud. In the survey by J.P. Morgan & AFP, it also points out that in 2016, 59% of survey responders experienced between one and five incidents. With the renewed increase of check fraud it is more important than ever to safeguard your organization from this crime. We have compiled a list of best practices to help your firm reduce its exposure.
Balance Your Accounts Regularly
At a minimum, balance your accounts monthly. Most banks give you 30 days from the date that monthly statements are issued to report fraudulent activity, though every bank is different, it's best to check with your bank to understand their specific policies. Regularly balancing your accounts will help to identify any transactions that your bank has recorded that don't match with your records.
Lock and Key
Store all blank checks, bank statements, and canceled checks in a safe and locked location. Also limit the number of people who have access to just the essential staff. Keys and passcodes to these secured locations should be looked after closely as well. Throwing the key into your top desk drawer or writing down the passcode on a post-it and taping it to your monitor is not the best way to ensure those who shouldn't have access aren’t able to gain it.
Destroy, Destroy, Destroy
Any old bank statements, canceled checks or blank check stock to closed accounts. If you no longer need them, destroy them. Develop a system of how, when, and who will take care of destroying these items. Until these items can be destroyed they should be kept in a secure location. .
Where is that Order?
When ordering checks keep an eye on the order. Check companies can give you a good estimate when you should expect to receive your order. Mark it on a calendar; if that day comes and goes and your order hasn't arrived, call the check company and have them look into it for you. This will help you to identify if your order has been lost or intercepted. When your checks arrive be sure to inspect your order to make sure not only all the information is correct, but to confirm that you received all the checks that you ordered. It's rare, but packages do come open in transit and contents can go missing. If you do notice any discrepancies report them right away to the check company and to your bank.
When buying checks you have many options, your bank, and the company whose accounting software the firm uses, or a printer that offers check printing services. Many people think that they need to buy their checks through their bank or through the company whose accounting software they use. This is not always the case and, a lot of time is not actually the most economical option either. The checks you choose should be printed on high-quality security paper that adheres to the latest ANSI standards (Check 21 Compliant) for image readiness. There are also additional security features that you should look for to help deter fraud.
- Micro-printed borders and signature lines: On an original check the borders and signature lines are made up of finely printed words, but when photocopied the borders and signature lines turn to solid lines.
- True Fourdrinier Watermark: A diamond-shaped watermark can be seen only when held at a 45-degree angle and cannot be altered or reproduced.
- Photocopy Void: The word "Void" will appear in the photocopy.
- Invisible Fluorescent Fibers: Fibers within the paper stock are revealed when held under a black light.
- Heat-sensitive Thermochromic Icon: Red key icon disappears when subject to heat.
- Chemical Stain: Sensitized paper reacts to chemical attempts to alter checks.
These are just a few of the many features that are built into most checks to help deter fraud. By taking a little time and looking around, you may find that you can get checks that are equal to or better quality than what your bank or software company provide—and at a better price. You may also find that many check companies offer additional time-saving items like deposit slips that can be used in conjunction with your accounting software and allow you to print out your deposits instead of handwriting them. In addition to deposit slips they usually carry the double window envelopes that allow you to mail checks without having to take the extra step of addressing an envelope.
For years Tuttle has been a trusted partner for providing many law firms, CPAs, and professional offices with business checks. We offer high-quality checks printed on security paper and incorporate 17 different security features to help prevent criminals from gaining control of your firm’s financial holdings. In addition to security we also offer a wide variety of check colors and backgrounds to help visually differentiate checks for various accounts. We can also help to personalize your checks with your company logo. Contact one of our customer service specialists today and find out how we can we can provide a better value when it comes to your business checks.