CU Cents: CHECK YOURSELF – Arm yourself against check fraud

Your personal and financial safety is very important to us. In the past few posts, we’ve covered multiple topics related to protecting your identity and your money.  This time, we want to remind you of ways to protect yourself against a more “traditional” form of fraud  – CHECK FRAUD.

Although fewer people are writing checks for everyday bills and expenses, criminals today can defraud you and your financial institution quite easily with a blank check taken from your check book, a canceled check found in your garbage, or a check you mailed to pay a bill. Fraud professionals have become increasingly skilled and sophisticated in accessing and altering information thanks to advances in readily available technology. Here are some tips to help arm yourself against check fraud:

  1. Review Company Checks for Security Features, Logos and Company Names – When you receive a check from a business or financial institution, ensure that the security features are incorporated in the check. Most corporations have these security features printed on the face of the check.
  2. Guard your Account Information – Store your checks, statements, deposit slips and cancelled checks in a secure location. If you have a checkbook, NEVER leave it in the car or in the open. Limit the amount of personal information on your check. Exclude Social Security, driver’s license or telephone numbers from your check.
  3. Be Assertive – If someone pays you with a cashier’s check, have them accompany you to the credit union or bank to cash it. If at all possible, only accept a check during normal business hours so you can verify whether it is legitimate. Make sure you obtain identification information from the individual.
  4. Be Specific With Your Payee – Don’t Make a check payable to cash. If lost or stolen, the check can be cashed by anyone. If you need cash from your account, visit a branch and do a withdrawal. Otherwise, visit a surcharge free ATM. Finally…
  5. If It’s Too Good to Be True, Ask Questions. – We’d all like “someone” to send us some money, a windfall of cash, a well-needed boost to our cash flow, “a gift from beyond”– but don’t be fooled. Scammers and fraudsters prey on our emotions and our hardships – If you weren’t expecting a check or notice that the payment you received for a job you did is for more than what you were due, BE CAUTIOUS.

Luckily, your Credit Union is here, checking and double checking (pun intended) you so that  your finances are protected. We ask a lot of security questions, we question the source of your funds when you make a deposit, we review your account history with you when you call and we do not email confidential account information or statements through the open internet. We do these things to make sure your information is safe. If you’re in doubt about a check you received, come see us; we can help you determine if it’s legitimate before you make a deposit.

Be on the lookout for more on this topic and many others.  It’s all part of our goal to put you first and help you afford life!

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