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So I buy "blank check stock", or security-enhanced thick paper for printing checks. I then print a check with the appropriate MICR font at the bottom space, and put all the other relevant info on the check. The check stock comes with the padlock icon on the back, and lists the security features found on it.

Then I take that check, sign it, and give it to the client so I can pay them. They cash the check. They get the money in their account. I got to give them a completely custom branded check.

But I don't see how any of the security features of "check stock paper" actually help in preventing check fraud. For example, a person could do this:

  1. Buy blank check stock, with the padlock icon on it, and the security features listed.
  2. Print the same check design and check information (my bank account and such) onto that check stock.
  3. Fake the signature.
  4. Deposit it into their account.

Obviously I would see this appear in my transaction history and report it as a fraud. But my question is about the security features. I don't see how they offer any protection from this situation. The fraudster can just buy arbitrary check stock and print everything out the same way I printed everything out on the custom check.

So I am wondering if one could explain how these security features actually add security against fraud. I don't see it.

I can see how the security features means a photocopy of a check will not be accurate, or how if they try and erase info off of a check it might be obvious because of the chemicals in the security features. But I don't see how they can't just print a copy from check paper.

4

The security features, as you noted, prevent a certain type of fraud.

If a crook buys blank check stock and makes a fake check with your name and account number on it, then yes, the security features don't do a whole lot of good, as the fake checks will also have security features on it. However, the crook probably won't ultimately get away with it. When the crook deposits the check, you will discover the fraudulent transaction and dispute it. If there is any question, you'll be able to show that the check is not real: The signature won't match, the design won't match, the check number won't be sequential, etc. The check will bounce, and the crook's bank will want their money back from the crook.

However, let's consider an alternative scenario. Let's say that you give a $19.95 check to someone who is unfortunately a crook. That crook decides that $19.95 isn't enough, and thinks that $1,995 is a much better amount for them. In order to alter the check, they would need to make erasures on the check that you give them. In this case, the security features would indeed help. If they try to photocopy the check and replace the dollar amounts with new text, the new documents will lack security features. If they try to erase the dollar amount on the original document, the chemical erasure protection feature will prevent this. This is good, because if they can successfully alter the check, you would have a hard time proving it in a dispute; after all, you did give the person a check, and the document is indeed one of yours, and the signature would be real. The only thing in question is the dollar amount, so it would be your word against his.

  • Excellent, thank you! I did not see that last point until now. But even then, your client could print the check on check paper, copy the signature, and boom, your word against theirs. Wonder how you would actually resolve this now, hmm... – Lance Pollard Dec 24 '18 at 14:24
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    Maybe if you had a legal contract signed first, by the client, for the amount of $19.95, then you could prove it better. Basically, "If you want to use a check to get paid rather than credit card or something, please sign this contract". – Lance Pollard Dec 24 '18 at 14:26
  • @LancePollard There are other ways to settle the dispute in that case. When you give someone money, there is usually a reason for it. For example, if you purchased something from the crook, you could show that the item you received is worth $20 and not $2000. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '18 at 14:41

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