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The Top 10 Tips to Spot Fake Checks

Posted by Andrew Donahey on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 @ 01:00 PM


check guarantee

 The Top 10 Tips to Spot a Fake Check 

  • #1 Smooth Edges - Four smooth edges is not good. You want at least one side to have a perforated edge, a quick indicator that your check was cut from a register and not printed in somebody’s basement.
  • This check will have perforation because it is from a check register.
  • #2 Paper Quality - It should feel like heavy check stock designed to stand up to check processing equipment, not like copier paper. Hold it up to the light to see if the paper is too thin or too thick. Look for security features in the paper such as a small background pattern that may reveal VOID when photocopied.
  • Feel the check. Look at the check. Be the check.
  • #3 Bank Logo and Address -  Make sure there is a bank logo and that the logo isn't faded or fuzzy suggesting that it was downloaded from a web site or photocopied. Does the bank address appear accurate? A PO box or incomplete address may be a sign that something is not right. Check for typos in the printed information too.
  • This check has no details identifying the bank.
  • #4 Walk the MICR Line - The line of digits at the bottom of every check that represent the bank routing number, account number and check number make up the “magnetic ink character recognition” or MICR line. It can be read by processing equipment. The routing number should have nine digits, no more and no less. Magnetic ink looks and feels dull - not shiny.
  • This check has no MICR line.
  • #5 Match the MICR -  Look for a check number at the upper right corner and confirm that the check number matches the check number in the MICR line. Check numbers need to be in both areas.
  • The check # and the MICR line’s check # don’t match on this check.
  • #6 Match the Money - Under the Pay To The Order line is the Legal Line. This line must have the amount of the check written in words as well as written in numbers. Both amounts must be the same.
  • Make sure there are amounts in both spaces – as there are on this check -- and that the amounts match. On this check, they’re off by $50,000.
  • #7 John Hancock - Make sure the check is signed and the signature looks legitimate. Stains, gaps or a digitized appearance may mean that the signature was scanned or forged. Checking the signature against the check writer's ID should be mandatory.
  • This check is not signed.
  • #8 Security Marks -  Enhanced check security includes the placement of a small padlock icon and message on the front of the check and a security note on the back. The words ORIGINAL DOCUMENT will be present along with microprint lines. Look for other security features in the paper such as a small background pattern that may reveal the word VOID when photocopied.
  • This check does not have the padlock security feature.
  • #9 No Nigerian Princes - If a check is unexpected or is from someone you are not familiar with, proceed with caution. Also be careful accepting second or third party checks that could be stolen. Never wire cash in exchange for a check from someone you do not know. Make sure the check is not marked VOID or non-negotiable.
  • The Nigerian Prince check scam is one of the oldest in the book. Don’t cash it!
  • #10 Under or Over $5k? - Often, faked checks are written for under $5000 to avoid being flagged or held by the bank and subject to verification. This alone is not an indicator of a fake check, but in conjunction with other red flags, this tip could be the tipping point.
  • This check is less than $5k and is missing the security padlock.
  • I took a fake check. What do I do now? -
  • 1. Read this blog article and spring into action immediately: Check Fraud Victim’s 6 Step Guide to Recovery 
  • 2. If you are a business, put a check guarantee service in place that guarantees you will be paid when a check is returned. Learn more about check guarantee here:
  • CrossCheck, Inc., an established leader in the payments industry, processes and approves billions of dollars worth of check transactions annually for retail and dealer outlets throughout the U.S. For 30 plus years, our goal has been to increase merchants’ profits by providing efficient and affordable check approval, guarantee, and conversion services that can help increase sales and reduce risk. CrossCheck is headquartered in Petaluma, California and has offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas. CrossCheck’s suite of services includes check conversion technology, ACH, web-based transactions, and remote deposit capture products. Visit for more information. CrossCheck, Inc. 1440 North McDowell Blvd. Petaluma, CA 94954 888-937-2249

Tags: Check Fraud