Even in the modern digital era, a wide range of businesses still require the use of checks on a regular basis. Having a tangible, distributable check can help provide you with a material backup in case something goes with your electronic filing system. Additionally, many people find that having physical checks can be extremely beneficial once tax season comes around. Other business will claim that physical checks can improve your overall business structure and increase your sense of professionalism.
The potential usefulness of paper checks is abundantly clear and, as long as these particular documents continue to remain in use, it is important that your business finds ways to make sure they are perpetually secure. Assuming your business will be immune to the risks of fraud or theft can often have significant consequences. When it comes to taking security measures, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Fortunately, Smart Payables’ check printing services offer a wide variety of valuable security features that can help keep your business protected. By taking the time to understand these potential benefits, the risks that your business are exposed to, and the various features currently available, you can significantly improve how your business operates.
In this article, we will discuss the most important details of the check printing industry, and how to help keep your business secure. Taking just a little bit of time to improve your check security is something that will be undeniably worth the effort.
Overview of the Check Printing Industry
People have been writing paper checks for decades (even centuries) but, without adequate protection, the risk of check fraud will inevitably increase. In fact, according to some recent estimates, as much as $14 billion worth of check fraud is committed in the United States each year. This figure is not even including the significant levels of check fraud that can be found elsewhere around the world.
Even in instances where check fraud can eventually be reconciled—whether this is through your bank or another third party—the costs and hassle associated with it is something that your business will still want to take actions to avoid. It is also believed that over the next few years, the amount of checks that are actively being written will annually increase by about four percent. Considering that your business may be even more reliant upon the use of checks in the near future, problems with check printing need to be taken seriously.
In order to develop a check security plan that is compatible with your business, there are a few things you will need to actively consider.
- What type of checks do you use on a regular basis? What kind of confidential information do these checks typically contain?
- How many physical checks does your business use per year? How many digital checks do you use?
- Which types of check fraud are most likely to happen to your business?
- What safety measures are you currently taking in the status quo?
Once you have been able to effectively answer these questions, it will be significantly easier for you to know where to begin. Although Ernst & Young might predict that more than 500 million checks will be forged next year, that doesn’t mean that your business needs to be one of the victims.
Understanding Check Fraud and Other Risks
The term “check fraud” is rather vague and can be used to describe a rather wide range of criminal activities. Sometimes, check fraud can be as simple as simply signing someone else’s name. Other times, attempts to commit check fraud will be significantly more sophisticated and involve many different moving pieces.
In order to make sure your business is as secure as you can possibly be, it is very important for you to understand what is potentially at risk.
- Counterfeiting checks describes any effort to try to imitate an otherwise legitimate check. The easier a given check will be to imitate, the more likely that someone could pull off a successful counterfeit. Having special types of ink, paper, and unique graphics can help keep you more secure.
- Forging checks describes criminal efforts to sign or endorse a check using an unauthorized name other than their own. This is likely the oldest variety of check fraud there is.
- Altering checks describes making any sort of unauthorized changes to a check. For example, changing the listed value of the check after it has already been signed is a form of alteration. Having special chemicals to prevent the act of check washing will help make successful alterations significantly less likely.
These are likely the most common ways that check fraud can occur. More recently, many criminals also have begun engaging in a practice known as check kiting. Check kiting is a complex practice that involves the use of multiple different financial institutions. Essentially, by praying on overdraft allowances that occur between banks, the criminal will be able to gain premature access to deposited funds (that would otherwise be inaccessible).
Though each of these practices have a tremendous amount of variations between them, there are two things they all have in common. First, these are each reasons that business owners should be mindful of who they are exchanging checks with. Second, each of these practices can be effectively prevented by increasing various security features.
Helping Keep Your Physical Checks Secure
With so many different types of check fraud in circulation, it can often be quite difficult for you to know where to begin increasing your security features.
The most obvious way to protect your checks is to increase the amount of paper security features you have present. This can include a variety of physical attributes such as watermarks, security threads, enhanced toners, chemical sensitivities, special fibers, and numerous others. These features will be particularly useful for avoiding counterfeiting and alterations.
Furthermore, the specific design of your checks is also something that should be actively accounted for. Using text, fonts, layouts, and graphics that are specific to your business can help your specific checks much more difficult to counterfeit. As an additional benefit (unrelated to security), these design features will also help you further establish your brand and create a dominate impression for your partners and clients.
You will also want to make sure to include as many printing security features as you feasibly can. Printing with specialized inks or print stamps can help assure that your checks are more genuine. These features are usually easy to adjust over time, which will be quite beneficial if your business needs to modify its operating scheme. The most secure checks are the ones that are not only able to withstand the risk of fraud, they will also be able to withstand problems relating to heat, water, scratching, and other related variables.
Streamlining Digital Security
If your business wants to increase efficiency, establish a greater sense of professionalism, and also continue your effort to make your checks more secure, you should strive to create a system that also includes various digital security features. Features such as blank check protection, positive pay, and signature security can all help you avoid the risk of check fraud over time. Hardware such as encrypted data streams, password protected controls, and paper jam disabling will also be quite helpful throughout the ordinary course of business.
Choosing the Check Printing Company that is Right for You
Once you are able to understand the risk of check fraud and the technologies available to help you avoid it, the need for a reliable accounts payable partner should be even more apparent. Many of these organizations will also be able to help your business with other common needs—such as document printing and mailing—and will offer additional options to help.
When comparing pricing and packages, there are a few things you should be actively looking out for.
- The physical and digital security features that are readily available
- The cost per unit and the amount of volume that their organization can handle
- Other services (statement printing, marketing, etc.) that are also available
- The quality of the customer service—are they willing to answer your questions?
By taking a look at each of these variables, you should be able to easily tell if a prospective partner is right for your business. Though comparing your current options may require some effort, taking the time to find a solution that is compatible with your needs will be very beneficial in the long-run.
Overall, the need to have a variety of check security features is something that ought to be universally apparent. Check fraud is a growing problem and one that is expected to continue growing over time. Fortunately, this problem is something that can be actively avoided by making the right choices in advance. Because cashing and receiving checks is essential for many businesses’ day to day operations, there are currently more useful security features available than ever before. By making the decision to upgrade your security, you can be much better prepared for the future.
For more information on secure check printing services, contact Smart Payables at (720) 287-0030 or toll free at 1-844-CO-SMART.