Check Fraud: What if you ARE Bob?

by J_Pratt


Remember when you had lunch with Bob (see “What About Bob”) and he gave you a check to pay for his half of the bill? And in doing so, he entrusted you with a lot of his personal financial information, which is printed on his check stock?

What if YOU were in Bob’s shoes? Hey! You are in Bob’s shoes!

If you also write checks, you also have personal and financial information printed on your checks–your name, address, maybe you phone number and perhaps even your driver’s license number–and therefore you are also at risk of identity theft when you write a check. What if the person or the company you give your check to participates in an RDC process–which is increasingly likely–which will leave your paper check outside of the bank’s control?

So how can you reduce the risk of identity theft from someone using your check stock against you?

  1. The next time you order your checks, reduce the amount of personal information you provide:
    1. Print only the first initial of your full first name with your last name
    2. Use a post office or commercial mail service box address (e.g. UPSStore) instead of your physical home address
    3. Omit a phone number or use your work number (with your employer’s permission)
      1. DO NOT print your driver’s license
      2. DO NOT print your email address
      3. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT print your social security number
  2. When you sign your checks, sign only the initial of your first name with your last name in order to avoid disclosing your full name to anyone who might view the check
  3. Check your account activity online at least weekly to make sure you recognize all the charges against your account

Since checks are being converted into electronic transactions leaving the paper behind, consider using other, more secure payment methods wherever possible, such as credit cards, bill pay services, and PayPal to name a few alternatives.