The con is everywhere. No matter what precautions are implemented, the digital world continues to pose new security issues to the identities of its users. And, while banks and financial institutions become more savvy about fraud and regulations, including 2004’s Check 21, the threat of check fraud remains. Due to heavier media coverage, it’s possible the majority of Americans might be more concerned with identity theft than they are with check fraud.
Nevertheless, companies handling secure documents and manufacturing, such as Harvard, Illinois-based Ameriprint, continue to focus on check security. “Our most pressing concern is helping distributors convince their clients that they are potential targets,” said Gary St. Onge, Ameriprint’s vice president of marketing. “Check fraud is still growing at an alarming rate. Current technology makes it easier than ever to counterfeit checks and negotiable documents.” Recently, the same case was made by The National Consumers League, which ranked fake check hoaxes highest among 2006 telemarketing scams, consisting of 31 percent of all telemarketing fraud and third highest among online scams, or 11 percent of all Internet fraud.
To combat such crimes, the passage of Check 21 occurred in 2004, and created much confusion about exactly what the standards entail. According to the Federal Reserve Board, Check 21 was designed to prevent security measures used as fraud safeguards from encumbering the digital imaging process. The standards allow the smooth transition of electronic image check substitutions, but are also troubling because electronic check visibility requires the paper document’s prevention features to drop out during the scanning process.
Because of these changing regulations and the evolution of security technology, manufacturers have had to invest heavily in both the safety of their products and in the careful maintenance of their products’ images. There are also ANSI X9.7 standards to consider, which address imaging and readability. As St. Onge explained, security features that dramatically increase file size, such as foils or holograms, are now less favorable choices for check security.