It is easy to forget about the risks of paper when our days are built on a digital foundation.
Everything we do (or maybe it just seems so) can be accomplished with the powerful computer in your pocket. When it comes to banking you can check your balance, make payments, transfer a friend money to pay for lunch, and even deposit checks – all from your phone. Fraud online is something we hear about all of the time. Accounts are hacked. Private information is stolen and shared to the “dark web”. Frightening, but common these days.
We also need to remember that everything that is old will be new again. Unfortunately, that includes good old fashioned check fraud. You might think that check fraud is less worrisome now that more and more of your transactions are digital, but it is actually increasing. In 2021, there were still over 11 billion check transactions in the United States leaving plenty of room for fraudsters to do their damage. Even with all of that opportunity, there are few things we can do to make the criminal’s job a little more difficult.
First, don’t send checks out of the mailbox at home. The red flag sticking up is an invitation that a check is sitting there waiting to be stolen. Drop off your check payments directly with the post office if you can.
Next, be picky with how your write your checks. Fill them out completely, including the memo line. The more complete the check, the harder it will be for anyone to erase (using chemicals) the ink and replace the information without it being noticeable. Never use an erasable pen, use black or blue ink, and gel ink is best.
Last, check your bank account regularly. No, it is not fun but it will save you money in the event you become a fraud victim. You have protections with your account as long as you catch the fraud early and communicate with the bank. Look for double debit entries or amounts that you don’t recognize. If you see something, give us a call and we will review the issue right away.
If you have questions or concerns regarding fraud, contact your local CenBank banker. We are part of your financial team!
Don C. Martinez