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Cheque fraud is on the rise: Here’s how to protect business

Cheque fraud is on the rise

We use fewer cheques these days, but criminals are attacking them more than ever.

Just 20 years ago, Canadians walked around with cash in their pockets and always had a chequebook within easy reach. Most bills were paid by cheque through the mail.

But nowadays, most Canadians expect to pay everything with debit and credit cards and bank drafts.

Much fewer paper cheques.

So, the number of cheques being used has dropped dramatically in the last couple of decades. And that would make you think that cheque fraud would also drop dramatically.

Not so. In fact, cheque fraud is on the rise.

Each cheque written today is more likely than ever to present risks… Cheques are still the leading target for attempted fraud, according to the Federal Reserve. In the near future, the ramp-up of EMV-chip cards--which are even more difficult to abuse--may once again make cheques a more attractive target for fraudsters. Any further increase in fraudulent cheques carries a disproportionately higher risk of loss because the average amount of a cheque transaction far exceeds that of card payments.

In other words, because electronic payments are becoming more secure…and people are using cheques only for high-dollar amount transactions…they are even MORE attractive to criminals.

So, now is not the time to get careless about the security features on your cheques.

According to cheque security experts, business cheques should have several security features to deter cheque fraud criminals.

Here are some security features and procedures to consider for your cheques…

  • control access to your cheques
  • toner bonding in the paper if you print cheques with a laser printer (without it, what you printed (eg. who the cheque is made out to) can easily be removed and replaced
  • thermochromatic ink that fades when warmed and cannot be color copied
  • tamper detection features so that attempts to alter what is printed are made obvious (eg. big stains appear if solvents are used to remove the ink)
  • copy void pantograph (causes the word VOID to appear when copied with certain photocopiers)
  • true watermark that cannot be copied and is visible when held to the light
  • warning banners explicitly worded, advising recipients to verify cheque’s authenticity
  • “do not negotiate” warnings printed on the back of blank panels
  • invisible fluorescent fibers that become visible when held under an ultraviolet light
  • visible fibers or dots
  • microprinting
  • security features listed on back of cheque

The more security features in your cheques, the more likely that you will persuade criminals to move on to easier pickings. You don’t have to have the most secure cheques on the planet, you just cannot settle for having poorly protected ones!

That makes you a target.

And you’ll be surprised at how little it costs to protect your cheques in this age of increasing cheque fraud.


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