Check fraud seemed to be taking a back seat to all kinds of electronic fraud. But this year we’ve seen an increase in this “old-fashioned” crime. Criminals are simply finding new ways to pull it off.
With improved technology, criminals can more easily produce counterfeit checks, forge checks or simply alter real checks. For example, there’s technology that melts the ink in the “to” field of a check and replaces the intended recipient with a fake name. Once altered, criminals use the checks to withdraw money or make purchases before you realize the fraud.
Do NOT Put Checks in the Mail
With counterfeit and altered checks, criminals are using real checks as prototypes. Many of these checks are being stolen from mailboxes by organized crime rings. It’s gotten so bad, the U.S. Post Office has encouraged people NOT to mail checks.
INB offers Person-to-Person (P2P) payments inside of our “Move Money” feature inside of digital banking. This allows you to send a check to a parent – or anyone with a debit card. And when you think about it, kids usually aren’t cashing checks; their parents cash them for them. Now, parents can electronically move the money from their checking account to a child’s savings account or withdraw cash for a trip to the toy store.
Pay Your Bills Electronically
If you make your payments by check, now is the time to move to an electronic bill pay service. All INB checking account customers have free access to a “Move Money” feature inside of digital banking that allows you to set up electronic payments from your checking account. While, initially, it takes time to set up your payees, it’s once and done. The next time you need to make a payment, you simply key in the amount of the payment, choose a “receive by” date and hit “schedule.”
Most payees accept ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments, which means INB doesn’t send checks. In most cases, we simply wire the money on the date you’ve chosen.
Our branch staff is happy to sit with you and set up your bill pay service. If possible, make an appointment so we can make sure we set aside the time for you. All of our branches offer a Make An Appointment option on our website. Simply navigate to our “ATM and Branch Locator” found in the “About INB” section of www.inb.com.
Store Your Blank Checks Securely
Don’t overlook theft as a means to check fraud. Store your checkbook, blank checks, and canceled checks in a secure and locked location. If they’re ever stolen, call us right away.
We’ll also add you should be cautious with personal information. Be mindful of who you share your personal and financial information with. Avoid giving out your bank account number and ensure your checks do not include unnecessary personal details like a Social Security Number.
Speed and the Law
In many cases, banks are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to cashing checks. “We want to serve our customers by quickly making the cash available from a check. But that speed means that while the cash is available, the check may be fraudulent.
The Federal Trade Commission explains the predicament this way: “When you come to the bank to cash a check, you expect to receive your money right away. By law, banks have to make deposited funds available quickly, usually within two days. When the funds are made available in your account, and the bank may say the check has ‘cleared,’ that doesn’t mean it’s a good check.
“Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. By that time, the scammer has any money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the money back to the bank. Your best bet: Don’t rely on money from a check unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with.”
Each time INB is presented with a fraudulent check, our team literally steam rolls into action. From the branch staff presented with a bad check to our operational team, we stop everything to make sure the fraud isn’t replicated at another branch or even at another bank. Most of the time, we’re successful. But not always.
INB is part of a network of banks that share information not only between themselves, but with the authorities. We’re also part of a local fraud group that meets regularly to discuss what we’re seeing and how to stop it.
Help Us Stop Check Fraud
Please help us put the organized crime rings and individual criminals out of business. Take these precautions:
- Do not put checks in your mailbox or the postal service’s outdoor mailboxes. If you must mail a check, take it inside the post office for delivery.
- Store your unused checks and other personal information securely.
- Use INB’s Bill Pay service inside of digital banking.
- Send gifts of cash using our P2P service, also available inside of digital banking.