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WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?
By protection, I mean reducing chance of someone counterfeiting or altering your checks, as well as reducing your liability when it occurs.
Be aware that is is impossible to prevent fraud. But you can significantly minimize risk using a two-prong approach. It is critical that good procedures related to your check processing are put in place, and that you use a check that is difficult to counterfeit or alter (see sidebar).
* Reconcile your bank statement promptly. Now that bank statements are available online, you can do this as frequently as you feel is necessary for your situation. * Restrict access to your checkbook/check stock. Ensure that only trusted staff that need access have it. * Audit your checks. However, this can be difficult because often checks are removed from bottom or middle of book or stack. * Use a custom design. While this isn't an affordable option for many businesses, look into it. The next best thing is to ensure that your check supplier uses comprehensive security features. Remember though that a custom design is not a substitue for security features. * Advise your bank branches' officials of security features in your checks .. in person or in writing (and keep a copy of letter on file!). * If you issue a large number of checks, particularly with a low amount (eg. rebate checks), open a separate account and alert bank staff of an upper limit for that account.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Don't take unnecessary chances. The more security you have through procedures and choice of check form, less likely that someone will tamper with your checks.
Les C. Cseh is the owner of ASAP Checks, Forms & Supplies, a check printer operating out of Alexandria Bay, NY and Perth Road, Ontario. He can be reached at email@example.com and at 888-85-CHECK. In addition to a variety of secure checks, the ASAP web site (http://www.asapchecks.com?jayde offers a non-commercial section related to check processing issues called the MICR Repository.