Southeast Missouri State University

Bad check writing and fraudulent credit cards take away thousands of dollars of profits from businesses each year. One source estimates that businesses lose more than $13 billion to fraud each year, losses that add up to making all of us pay higher prices. These losses are just as extreme on the personal side. Thousands of people are cheated each year when their credit cards or checkbooks are stolen. Learn to recognize a potential fraudulent act before it is too late, and do not let yourself become a victim of credit card or checkbook theft.

Frauds Against Business

Bad check writing and use of stolen credit cards is a profitable way of life for many criminals, but your business can protect itself if you keep in mind some of the following tips. Watch for these signs of credit card fraud:

  1. The card has been altered, has expired, or is not yet valid.
  2. The card is on the issuer’s warning list.
  3. Signatures on the card and sales slip do not match.
  4. The customer makes several purchases in the same department, all under the amount that would require an authorization call to the card issuer.

Your business can also protect itself against bad check writers.

How to Cut Losses from Bad Checks

  1. Always insist on proper identification. The best form is one with a photograph and signature.
  2. Examine the check and require that it be signed in your presence.
  3. Protect YOUR check system from thievery. Keep blank checks, bank statements, and other records where they will be secure from theft.
  4. Be careful when accepting the following type of checks:
  • Business checks: these are frequently counterfeit or stolen. They may look official, but if you are in doubt, call the business for verification.
  • Certified checks: These types of checks can be forged, so call the bank for verification.
  • Post-dated checks: Never agree to hold a check until appropriate funds are deposited.
  • Checks with old dates: These checks can be difficult, if not impossible to collect.

Frauds On The Personal Level

To avoid being a victim of credit card or checkbook thievery on the personal level, you must learn to protect and carry your belongings in a safe manner:

  1. Do not carry your checkbook and credit card numbers in the same place.
  2. Keep a cumulative list of all credit card numbers and telephone numbers of card issuers in case your credit cards are stolen.
  3. Keep track of all checks issued and review canceled checks periodically to insure the amount of the check has not been altered.
  4. Do not leave carbon copies of either checks or credit card sales receipts lying around. Dispose of them immediately or secure in a safe place.
  5. Do not give your credit card number or bank account number over the phone, unless you have verified the authenticity of the business you are dealing with.

Fraudulent credit cards and checks are a profitable business for the resourceful criminal. However, if you follow the tips above, and educate your employees and yourself, you can learn to recognize a potential fraud and not become a victim!

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