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Avoiding bad checks

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Getting a bad check costs a business money in several different ways. To start, a business is typically charged high fees by their bank to try to process the check. Then, a business has to use their store staff to track down the person who wrote the bad check, and get a new form of payment from the customer. If there is no way to contact the customer, then the business is left with the bill for the lost goods or services.
Because of this, many businesses have tried to come up with a foolproof way to identify bad checks as soon as the customer writes them. Unfortunately, there is really no sure-fire test that can ensure a business does not accept a fraudulent check. There are several tests, however, that can make these checks easier to identify.
To start, ask for identification before accepting any check. This is the best method of making sure a business does not accept a fraudulent check. By comparing the name and address that is printed on the check to whatever name and address is printed on a state or federal issued I.D. card. About half of all forged checks are given to businesses along with an expired driver’s license. This test works because it is much harder to get a fake ID than it is to write a bad check. While this test will not catch a professional forger, it can get amateurs.
Establishing check dollar limits is another good way to avoid losing a lot of money to a bad check. Professionals look to make the most money or get the most merchandise for as little effort as possible. This means that they prefer to write one large check rather than several small ones. By limiting the amount on the check, a business can deter some professional scam artists, or at least minimize its potential losses.
Next, look carefully at the numbers on the check. Nine out of ten bad checks have numbers that are less than 500. This means that most bad checks are passed from newly opened checking accounts. Also try to pay attention to the check routing numbers. Scammers often reverse the first two digits of the check’s routing number in order to slow down the processing of the check.
Also look carefully at the paper the check is written on. Counterfeit checks are sometimes printed on paper that looks and feels different from the paper that bank issued checks are printed on. Look for faded areas, since this can be an indication that the check was washed. Also make sure the check has at least one perforated edge where it was torn out of a checkbook. Photocopied checks rarely have this. Finally look at the MICR line ink. This is the part of the check where the account and bank numbers are printed. The ink should appear to be shiny or glossy. This is because of the magnetic ink used on this line. Since scammers rarely spend money on magnetic ink, this can be a good way to catch a bad check.

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