Although credit card fraud and cyber-crime make more headlines, your checking account can be a target of criminal activity, too. Most of the crime can be prevented with a few simple precautions.
Use checks with security features Criminals know a variety of ways to remove, change, or alter the amount information on the front of a check. Checks you purchase through DCU have features to help thwart this activity.
Use a ball point pen Because most markers are water-soluble, they can be easier for crooks to remove from the paper.
Print all but your signature Cursive writing is much easier to alter (see illustration). Fill in unused space on the face of the check with a line to prevent anyone from adding information.
Securely store and dispose of checks Keep unused checks and check copies in a secure place. Shred checks you never intend to use.
Consider plastic instead of paper Check (debit) Cards and credit cards have fraud protections built in that checks don't including the ability to dispute transactions if the merchant doesn't deliver the goods as agreed.
A check payable to you can still be stolen and spent by someone else if you haven't properly endorsed it. Consider this...
Use a restrictive endorsement whenever possible If your check is lost or stolen before you deposit it, it can still only be deposited in your account. Don't use this endorsement if you do not intend to deposit your check.
Wait to endorse if cashing If you plan to cash the check, don't endorse it until you visit a branch. Sign the check in front of the teller. A check endorsed with only your signature is negotiable. That means anybody else can add their own signature and cash or deposit the check in their own account.
Don't accept a check in payment that looks altered If the check turns out to be stolen, you could end up stuck with the loss.