Credit unions continue to suffer losses from check fraud despite declining check usage. Many of these losses are caused by counterfeit or altered checks presented for deposit to your front line staff. Increased access to sophisticated technology has made this type of check fraud an easy crime to commit. Scanners, check printing software, and quality printers are just a few of the tools available to anyone. Here a few suggestions to combat check fraud on your check deposits.
Check printing companies help to deter check fraud by including common security features that make it difficult for criminals to produce counterfeits. Tellers should be familiar with watermarks, micro printing, pantographs, and security screens. These features can assist your staff to verify the authenticity of checks received for deposit.
Other signs of possible counterfeit checks include invalid routing numbers, missing or mismatched check numbers, misspelled preprinted words, and the lack of perforations. Some obviously invalid signatures should alert you to a counterfeit as well. We have seen several counterfeit cashier’s checks lately signed by George Washington or Benjamin Franklin – among the many signatures available from Internet sites like Wikipedia!
Tellers should also examine checks for possible alterations of dollar amounts or payees. A cloudy or bleached area, or erasure marks on the check are common signs of alteration. Other signs are irregular printing of either payees or dollar amounts. Also make sure that the courtesy amount agrees with the legal amount.
Finally, if your tellers don’t discover the counterfeits or alterations, your check imaging system for processing deposits may alert them to possible problems. Investigate any warnings or cautions provided by your system. Rather than just overriding these messages from your system, remind tellers to manually inspect the checks again before proceeding with deposit processing. It may add some time to the processing tasks, but it may also prevent a significant loss to your credit union.
Due to security and confidentiality restrictions, SunCorp cannot provide transaction information directly to your consumer or business members. We have no method for verifying your members’ identities or the validity of their information requests.
If your members have questions about their check, ACH, or wire transactions that your staff cannot answer, please have your staff contact our Member Services Department for assistance.