Keep Your Money

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You’ve worked incredibly hard to earn your money and your financial reputation. You deserve to keep it. However, there are criminals who are itching to steal both the money you have now and the credit you can provide them. Don’t make it any easier for them. Protect yourself.

Check Fraud

Check fraud is rampant. Criminals use many different methods to alter a financial document. They use chemicals to change the amount of the check and the person to whom it was written. They use computer programs to copy, create and even design fraudulent checks.

Usually someone steals a financial document to begin the check fraud cycle. A blank check could be taken from a car or home. A canceled check is dug out of trash. Bank statements are found in the recycling or a deposit slip is left in the bank. Some criminals even take checks from mailboxes; trusting individuals have put them there to pay a bill, not knowing the risk they are running.

Computer Checks

Using computer programs can save your money. By printing your own checks on a laser printer, you are protecting yourself even better. You control the amount of information you include on the checks. Put as little personal information on the check as possible. Never include your social security number, even though that used to be used on every check written. Leave off your driver’s license number, too. Stores don’t require that information anymore. You don’t even have to put your telephone number on the check. The less information on the paper, the less possibility the criminal will use it to steal your identity.

Because you are opting to use a laser printer, chemical alteration of the check is much more difficult. The process that prints the check makes it much, much harder to change the print than if the check were written with ballpoint pen. Acetone is the chemical of choice for “washing” the check. This easy to obtain chemical is not effective on laser print.

Checks that contain special features are available to order, as well. These checks contain a number of fraud-elimination elements that will help keep your money safe. By combining the features in the actual papers, and the laser printing itself, you are protecting yourself very well.

Reconciliation

Because you may be liable for fraudulent charges after 30 days, you should be checking your account frequently. If at all possible, you should check it every day. If your financial institution doesn’t provide online reconciliation, there are free sites available. Should you find something that just isn’t right, contact your bank immediately. Usually the institution has a department that can help with this and may even help stop the fraud before it becomes wider spread identity theft.

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