If you’re the type to only use your debit card for purchases, it may seem like standard check printing and mailing has become a thing of the past. However, while the numbers of checks used for payments continues to decrease, paper checks are still an essential part of the US economy and are used by millions.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at checks and check fraud and some important tips to know before you send a check in the mail. While traditional checks are a secure form of payment, there is always the risk of check fraud. By taking into consideration our simple tips, you can better protect your funds and personal information.
Why Do People Still Use Checks?
While the numbers of checks used each year continues to decrease in the United States, paper checks are still a vital payment for countless businesses and individuals. Compared to other payment methods, such as debit or credit cards or direct deposit, there are still a few benefits that draw people to using checks for their payments.
Why exactly are people still using checks in 2022?
· More secure than many other types of payments.
· In some cases, the only way to pay certain bills or make deposits.
· Prefer a non-digital form of payment.
· Easier to track.
Is Check Fraud a Serious Problem?
As long as we use checks for payments, check fraud will always be an issue. Let’s start by first identifying what the problem actually is. Check fraud occurs when someone commits fraud, which is understood as an action where someone deliberately deprives someone of money through deceptive practices, with a check. Despite advancing security measures on our checks these days, check fraud continues to be a problem as fraudsters also use technology to craft more ingenious methods of check fraud.
There are several different ways that a fraudster can commit check fraud. Actually stealing the check, of course, is one primary way and is one of the most common types of check fraud when sending checks in the mail. At home, you should also always secure your checks in a safe place along with other financial documents. Forgery is another common method of check fraud and occurs when someone signs or endorses your check without proper authorization.
There are many additional types of check fraud that incorporate even more advanced techniques. Washing a check, where the fraudster uses chemicals to remove information, is common. Also, there is “paper hanging” which happens when someone purposefully writes checks on a closed account.
In the last decade or so, check fraud has become even more of an issue. Why is this? Fraudsters have access to much more advanced digital tools. These tools make it easier to reproduce checks, chemically alter them, or counterfeit their own fraudulent checks. This is why it’s so important for banks to stay current with security and consistently advance their check security features and strategies. The security of your future funds may depend on it.
What to Know Before Sending a Check in the Mail
Before you drop that next check in the mail, there are some things you should know. To help prevent check fraud, there are simple steps you can take to protect both your funds and your personal information (not to mention your peace of mind).
Read on for some tips to make sending checks in the mail safe and hassle-free:
· Disguise your checks: try to disguise your checks in the envelope if you can. Use a darker colored envelope, as compared to your classic white, to better hide the shape of the check. You can also wrap the check in a piece of paper to provide even more security.
· Correctly fill out all the information: making a mistake when you fill in the check information can leave it more vulnerable to fraud. Missing information makes it much easier for someone to forge your check and rob you of your funds.
· Visit the post office: no matter where you live, a home or business mailbox is much easier to tamper with (and potentially steal checks from) then the official post office mailbox. If it’s convenient, consider dropping off important items, like checks, at your local post office.
· Never make your checks payable to cash: simply stealing a check that is payable to cash is the easiest way for someone to commit check fraud. When your check is payable to cash, anyone can take it to a bank or retail store that cashes checks and receive the money. Always make your checks payable to a specific person or entity.
Conclusion – What to Know Before Sending a Check in the Mail
When it comes to how you’re sending and receiving payments (whether as an individual or a business), you have options when it comes to payment methods. Whether it’s with card, check, or even just cash, we all want our payments to be quick, pain-free, and perhaps most importantly, safe. This is why so many people still rely on using traditional checks for the majority of their financial transactions. While sending checks in the mail may seem outdated, checks are still useful as they are easy to track, universally accepted, and safer than many other options.
But no matter how thoughtful or careful you are, there’s always the risk of check fraud. Even with advanced security features on checks, check fraud is on the rise as fraudsters develop more sophisticated techniques to rob you of your hard-earned funds and personal information. Checks in the mail are especially vulnerable to theft and fraud.
To prevent check fraud, always hide your paper check in a thicker envelope (a colored one is even better) and use the local post office instead of your mailbox when possible. Never make the checks payable to cash and always complete the information. By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can rest easy knowing your checks and funds are secure.