Stay in Check
When we're little, we don't have to be concerned with "grown-up" issues like check fraud. Many children only think about checks when a relative gives them one and they get to cash it or deposit it to a savings account. Unfortunately, we can't stay young forever. Soon enough, we are forced to confront some harsh realities that involve counterfeiters and defrauders.
According to the 2012 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, checks remain the payment type most vulnerable to fraud attacks, with 62 percent of respondents incurring incidence of fraud and 26 percent of respondents indicating they have been hit by frequent check fraud attacks. While there may not be a simple solution to erase the problem completely, there are precautions companies can take to protect themselves.
Here, Christian Simko, director of product marketing & communications, Relyco, Dover, N.H., shared his thoughts on this growing problem.
Print Professional (PP): Has check fraud declined, remained stable or increased over the last year?
Christian Simko (CS): You would think check fraud would be in decline [because] the use of paper checks is declining. But from what we're hearing and [based on] the demands from our customers, it seems that check fraud has been increasing. The state of the economy is probably the major factor in the increase of check fraud. Other reasons why check fraud may be increasing are that checks are harder to tamper with and that there are better ways of detecting fraud. So, it may also be a case of a rise in fraud detection rather than a rise in actual fraud.
PP: How can defrauders tamper with checks? What are some popular tactics?
CS: There are many ways to tamper with a check, and the success of those actions can be tied to how secure or unsecure the check is. Popular tactics are photocopying/scanning and changing information on the check by rubbing the toner off. Probably the most effective tactic is the theft of blank check stock by employees who then attempt to write their own checks. In that case, it is very tough to detect fraud. Security cannot just stop with features on the check—you must practice secure processes for storing and writing checks.