Forge Me if You Can
Forgery is a problem common to checks. Often criminals secure a bank account number and print counterfeit checks using this information. There are many methods to foil the forger who creates his or her own checks. Most watermarks (both true and artificial) are very difficult to reproduce, as are micro-printed lines. Thermochromatic inks are particularly useful because they are very hard to duplicate, do not scan or copy well, are readily visible and easy to test.
As Steve Rosenman, commercial marketing manager at Paris Business Products, Westampton, N.J., explained, direct and extremely visible security features are highly effective. “Though the covert features are good, in order to validate them you need to have a person wanting to do it and that certainly doesn’t happen on the teller level and usually it doesn’t happen in the bank’s departments,” Rosenman said. “So we feel that visible security features are better.” At the time of writing, Paris was just releasing a new check-line, Docugard Plus, with additional thermochromatic ink security features.
Horner concurs with the assessment that bank employees do little to prevent fraud: “[Tellers] don’t even know how to look at a check... they don’t read the warning bands. [Banks] aren’t training their people to look at anything, to know anything.”
Abagnale proved these concerns to be true. He related his experience cashing a check on a cocktail napkin. He was able to do this by dressing very well and coming to the bank in a Rolls Royce. The teller was more interested in Abagnale than the check.
It is also very easy to replicate a company’s check if a secure paper stock isn’t being used. “If a business is using a very generic check without security features, they’re going to leave themselves open to fraud,” Rosenman said. Abagnale had similar thoughts about the necessity of using controlled and secure check stock. “If you’re going to go to Office Depot and buy checks over the counter and then wonder why someone has replicated your checks, that’s ridiculous. You have to use a little common sense and protect yourself.”
Related story: Why is Check Fraud Easier Today?