Do you remember the last time you wrote or mailed someone a check? For many of us, checks may seem like a relic from the distant past, a type of payment that only your grandmother still uses to send you a birthday gift. But while it’s true that check usage has declined in recent years, check writing and processing is still a major part of the US economy and a critical type of payment processing.
In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, over 14 million checks are processed each day, valuing billions of dollars. While digital transactions and credit cards have certainly become more common in recent years, checks are still used by individuals and businesses every day. Thus, understanding how to print and mail secure checks—to protect both your financial and personal information—is absolutely vital.
In this blog, we take a closer look at the world of check printing and processing to learn how to make this type of financial transaction more secure. We offer detailed tips to make your check printing and check mailing more secure through check security features and making smart decisions with your financial transactions.
SmartPayables is a leading check printing and processing firm. With advanced tools and technology, years of experience, and a professional team of accounting experts, we’ll ensure that your financial processes are up to speed and fully optimized. We know what it takes to improve your accounting processes, maximize on efficiencies, all to help your business grow and operate smoothly.
WHAT EXACTLY IS CHECK FRAUD?
Fraud references any action when a person or organization deliberately deprives another person (or company or organization) of money through deceptive means. Check fraud, as one might expect, is committing fraud by using checks.
There are several methods that someone might use to commit check fraud. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of check fraud:
- Check kiting.
- Check floating.
- Check washing.
HOW TO PRINT SECURE CHECKS
Most people choose to simply receive their checks from their bank. However, this method incurs fees and you’ll have to work around your financial institution’s schedule. Many individuals and small business owners choose to print their own checks online. While this may require a few more steps, it also offers more freedom for your check printing and processing.
To print secure checks, you’ll want to use the latest check printing software. This not only makes your checks more secure. It also makes the process easier and more user friendly.
You’ll need the right equipment. Check paper stock (which can be found at most office supply stores) and an adequate printer are necessities for printing secure checks. Make sure the printer you use works with check printing security features, such as thermochromatic ink and even watermarks.
It’s also advisable to work with an outsourced accounting firm for your check printing needs. These professionals will print your checks using the highest-quality materials and the latest check security features.
CHECK SECURITY FEATURES
Financial institutions are continually developing more advanced features to help keep checks secure. They leverage research with the top digital tools to design innovative ways to keep check fraud at bay and provide you with peace of mind. Luckily, even if you choose to print checks at home, most of these features are still available.
Here’s a look at the most advanced and effective check security features:
- Micro printing: this type of print is found along signature lines and also the borders of the check. This specialized type is visible and clear when put under magnification; however, it will become blurred if the check is scanned or copied.
- Watermarks: a watermark is a message or image that is superimposed onto another image or document. For checks and other financial documents, the watermark is often pressed onto the check during production. Watermarks are visible when help up to the light and extremely difficult to reproduce by fraudulent means. Watermarks are one of the most effective ways to combat counterfeit checks and to verify authenticity.
- Thermochromatic ink: this specialized ink is created to disappear when exposed to heat, thus, making it difficult to scan or artificially reproduce. One of the more common check security measures, thermochromatic ink is one of the quickest ways to verify the authenticity of a check.
- Visible fibers: during production, additional fibers may be added to a check that makes it much harder to reproduce. Visible fibers, which come in different densities and colors to differentiate them, may be added to the sides, back, or front of the check and are easily visible to the eye.
- Toner adhesion: some checks may be printed on a special type of paper that actually anchors down the printer toner. This makes it incredibly difficult for someone to remove or alter information or chemically wash the check without damage occurring.
- Chemically reactive paper: to fight against check washing, some checks are printed on chemically reactive paper. When treated with bleach or other solvents, this unique paper will reveal a “stain” or blue or brown mark.
HOW TO SAFELY MAIL CHECKS
Take a moment to think about the last time you dropped a check in the mail. Did you really think much about it or did you simply seal up the envelope and drop it in the mailbox? When you need to send funds, mailing a check is much safer than simply mailing cash; however, this doesn’t mean there aren’t inherent risks.
Even if your checks are sporting all the latest security features, there still lies the potential for check fraud. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of check fraud. While this may seem obvious, you want to make sure you completely and correctly fill out your check. Failing to include certain information makes it easier for your check to be altered and manipulated. When filling out your check, you should also use an indelible pen which has ink that cannot be removed.
When it comes to choosing an envelope, use a simple, nondescript white envelope that won’t draw any unnecessary attention. A colorful birthday envelope, for example, may be all the hint a thief needs. You can also lightly wrap your check—just a single piece of paper is sufficient—for an extra layer of privacy.
Finally, when it comes to dropping off your check, it’s advisable to drop it off at a local post office or USPS box. These, as you would expect, are much more secure mail locations compared to your mailbox at home.
CONCLUSION – HOW TO PRINT AND MAIL SECURE CHECKS
Even though we may not use checks as often as we used to, check printing and processing is still an important (and common) financial process. Valuable to both individuals and companies of all sizes, checks are still one of the most secure and reliable methods of sending and receiving funds. Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to fraudulent actions. Check fraud is still a major issue, which is why you need to learn how to safely and securely print and mail your checks.
If your company needs professional and efficient check printing and mailing services, Smart Payables is here to lend a hand. Tailored to fit the unique needs of your business, our experienced accounting experts will help take your financial processes and accounting to the next level.
Contact us today to learn more about Smart Payables and our outsourced payment processing services.