Paper checks are the number one payment type most susceptible to fraudulent attacks. According to the Association for Financial Professional’s 2015 Payments Fraud and Control Survey, check fraud accounted for 77% of organizations’ payments fraud in 2014. Even though this is a slight decrease from 82% reported in the 2014 study, checks are the payment method most often targeted by fraudsters, and hold the #1 spot for actual dollar amount loss as it relates to payment fraud.
Finance professionals must stay vigilant in their fight against check fraud, both internally and externally, by establishing and evaluating anti-fraud programs, making intelligent purchasing decisions, and partnering with organizations that can provide them with industry research and tools. Fraudsters will stop at nothing to uncover payment methods with the weakest controls, and once they are successful, they will continue to target and attack until proper security measures are put in place.
Here are 6 tips to help you protect your business against check fraud today:
1. Establish, Document and Follow Check Fraud Control Procedures
Organizations that establish formal procedures for procuring and handling blank check inventory, define roles and responsibilities of employees that handle and process checks, and dictate what check stock is to be used for are one step ahead in combating fraud. Having a policy in place that employees must adhere to and defines impending consequences acts as a deterrent for employees who might be considering committing fraud.
2. Stop Exposing Account Information on Pre-Printed Checks
Preprinted check stock exposes sensitive information, such as routing and bank account numbers, which can be easily stolen and reproduced by someone malicious inside your organization. Check stock is no more than blank security paper when account information is missing. If you don’t offer a loaded gun, you will have a better chance of not becoming a victim of fraud.
3. Prevent Check Tampering From the Get-Go
Selecting and using high security check stock with features such as Dual-tone True Watermarks, Thermochromatic (heat-sensitive) ink, and Toner Anchorage protects you against fraudsters because typical methods of altering checks via chemical washing and photocopying will not work. These check security features make it virtually impossible to tamper with the check.
4. Rely on Automated Check Matching Services
One of the most effective check fraud prevention tools available from banks today is Positive Pay, an automated check-matching service that detects fraudulent checks. You send a file to your bank containing information about issued checks. All of the information on each check must match (account number, check number, dollar amount of each check) or it will become an ‘exception.’ Exceptions are shared with you to determine each item’s authenticity. If the check is fraudulent or has been altered, the check will not be paid.
5. Go the Extra Mile with Help From Your Bank
Payee Positive Pay offers an additional layer of check fraud protection than Positive Pay through verifying the payee name, in addition to the account number, check number, and dollar amount of each check.
6. Take and Maintain Control Over Your Payment Process
MICR check printing software can help make your payment process more simple and secure. Working with your existing accounts payable software, you can settle payments directly from your own computer, route payments through an approval process and view check previews before printing the check run. This type of software also supports ACH, EFT, wire and other electronic payments if your vendors preferred to be paid electronically.