Protect your accounts from check fraud. Here’s what you need to know.
Published on February 22, 2023
We all write checks from time to time to pay bills, pay for purchases or send money as a gift to a child or grandchild. When you hand a check to someone, you’re providing them with a lot of personal information including your name, bank account number and signature. Criminals use those details to commit check fraud by creating counterfeit checks, forging checks and altering checks to steal money out of your account.
Some common check fraud schemes include:
- Check kiting – taking advantage of the “float time” it takes for a check to clear by writing a check against an account with insufficient funds, depositing the check in an account at a second bank and withdrawing the funds before the second bank can collect the funds from the first bank.
- Counterfeiting – using legitimate account information to illegally print and use fake checks.
- Forgery – faking the account holder or payee endorsement signature in order to cash the check and illegally obtain funds.
- Paper hanging – purposely writing a bad check knowing there are insufficient funds in the account to cover the amount of the check.
- Theft – stealing and using legitimate checks with the intent to defraud the account holder.
- Washing – using chemicals like nail polish remover to change information on a check such as payee name or the amount of the check.
Unfortunately, criminals constantly find new ways to perpetuate their crimes, making it more important than ever to stay on top of your finances and protect your accounts. Here are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of check fraud:
- Securely store your checks. Don’t leave them in your car or an unlocked desk drawer at work or other place where someone could easily take them. And don’t carry around your checkbook in your purse or pocket if you don’t plan to write any checks that day.
- Don’t use unlocked home or public mailboxes. Criminals regularly steal mail, hoping to grab envelopes that contain checks. If you need to mail an envelope that contains a check, it’s worth the time to take it to your local post office and personally hand it to a mail clerk.
- Sign up for account alerts. You’ll automatically get email or text notifications about account activity, so you’ll know if a check you didn’t write was cashed against your account. Contact our Client Care Center for assistance by calling 1-888-228-1597 from the U.S. or 0-800-122-8226 from Venezuela. Client Care Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm ET.
- Use Payee Positive Pay for your business. Add an extra layer of check fraud detection and prevention with daily check verification. When a check is presented for payment, it’s compared to information your business uploads to a Banesco USA portal, such as name of the payee, check number and amount. If the information doesn’t match, payment is withheld and you receive an exception notification to approve or reject the transaction.
Do even more to protect your personal information and your accounts. Avoid the risk of check fraud with convenient, secure ways to move money and pay others. Check out our online and mobile banking services including Bill Pay, Zelle® and electronic cash management payment processing solutions for your business.