Though check fraud isn’t a new story, new advances in check safety features and basic, common sense suggestions have given consumers a better chance to protect themselves. You don’t have to be a victim of check fraud. You can take a minute and make a huge difference in your financial future.
- Organize your Financial Information
Keeping tabs on all your financial information and supplies is vital. Knowing how many blank checks you have in your possession and exactly where they are can save your finances. Manual checks can be purchased. Not only are these neatly organized in binders, but they allow room for accounting. You can note exactly to whom the check was written and for how much it was written. This also allows you to double check with your account to make sure the checks have not been altered. When signing these checks, please make sure to use a pen with gel ink. This type of ink has proven very effective against attempts to alter it chemically.
- Keep an Eye on your Account
Make a habit of checking your account daily. That way you will always know what your balance is, but you can also see if there are any charges that don’t make sense. Should you ever see anything suspicious, you need to immediately contact your bank. They will most likely have a department assigned to handling this kind of problem. Notifying the financial institution protects you because they can then be on alert for other fraudulent activity. Also, you most likely won’t be responsible for the funds, if you notified them within 30 days of the fraudulent activity.
- Go Directly to the Post Office
If you are mailing a payment, make sure you drop it in a blue USPS mail box or take it to the post office itself. When using a drop box, make sure the box is emptied frequently so that it won’t get full and then someone could grab your mail from the top of the stack through the slot. When you go to the post office, you can hand it to someone in uniform at the counter, or you can drop it in one of their secure, inside drops.
- Don’t Share Too Much Information
Back in the day, everyone had their social security number printed on their checks. Not anymore. There’s no need to have your driver’s license number or phone number on your checks, either. Protect that information. No one needs to know your PIN’s either. Make sure they aren’t all the same, should one be guessed on one of your accounts. And never, never, never write your account and pin number down together.
- Trash it Effectively
Each piece of mail or printed information that may have any kind of personal information on it should be shredded; moreover, cross-shred it. Turn your personal information into confetti before you throw it away or recycle it. Criminals are very resourceful and have learned how to glean information from garbage cans and recycling bins. Don’t make it easier for them.