Check Safety Features
Even as on-line bill paying becomes more prevalent, there are still some things you need good old fashioned paper checks for. And those checks are sent through the mail leaving you vulnerable to identity theft which can have devastating consequences. Before you order your next batch, make sure that they include important check safety features.
Microprinting: If you see the letters, “MP” on a check, it has microprinting on it. Microprinting is words so small that they can’t be read by the human eye. Often, the signature line is actually microprinting and is made up of words like “Microprint Security,” or “Authorized Signature.”
If someone tried to copy the checks on a printer or scanner, the microprint will come out as a solid or dotted line.
Thermochromic Ink: This type of ink is sensitive to changes in temperature and will appear or disappear when exposed to heat from things like a copier or scanner making it difficult to counterfeit checks that have been printed with it.
Chemical Protection: Those attempting check fraud sometime use a process called chemical washing. Using common household chemicals, fraudsters erase the ink on checks so they can change the payee or the amount the check was written for. Checks treated with chemical protection prevent check washing; stains will appear on the check if there has been any chemical alteration.
Invisible Fluorescent Fibers: These are randomly placed fibers in the check that are only visible under black light. They can’t be reproduced on a copier or scanner.
Void Pantograph: On checks with this feature, the word “VOID” is printed on them but isn’t visible on the original. If the check is copied or scanned, the word will appear to the naked eye.
Prismatic Pattern: This pattern is created by overprinting two or more colors of ink to create a blended affect that is hard to match on a copier or scanner.
Warning Endorsement Features: This is a reminder printed on the back of a check to remind the person depositing it to look for certain security features.
Erasure Protection: If someone tries to erase information that has been printed on the check, the background ink will be erased too, leaving a white mark to indicate tampering.
Hologram Foil Bar: This is a border along the top of a check that is reflective and has a 3-D appearance which is easily visible to the naked eye but difficult to reproduce on a copy.
Watermark: A watermark is a design or word printed within the paper of the check that is visible when held up to the light and cannot be copied.
Despite their declining use, checks remain the payment type most vulnerable to fraud, to the tune of about $1.1 billion a year. Some banks will no longer accept checks that don’t have adequate security features for deposit. Ordering checks with the latest in secure features can help protect your identity and your bank account.