Personal Checks – Safety Tips You Need to Know

safety womanIt would be nice if we could trust people to be good honest citizens. But the truth is – there are quite a few shady characters out there just waiting for a chance to take advantage of you and get their grubby hands on your financial assets.

There are dangers with using any type of payment because anything can be stolen. When it comes to personal checks there are a few smart safety tips you should follow to make sure you don’t become a victim. Let’s take a look!

1. Print Less Information on Your Personal Checks

Every check you write will have some sensitive information printed on it. Your bank’s routing number and account number are required so that your checks can be processed, but you can limit the amount of personal info found in the top left corner.

The biggest mistake you can make is to print your social security number on your personal checks. We strongly advise against doing this. Your social security number is extremely sensitive data. Never print your security number on your checks, and avoid writing it on a check unless it is absolutely necessary.

When you order checks online, Check Advantage gives you the option of limiting how much information we print in that area. In fact, we only require you enter one line of information.

That’s usually your first and last name, but even that can be limited. If you choose to do so, you may print only your first initial and last name. This will make it more difficult for a thief to forge your signature. If you only have T. Johnson printed in the personal info section – how will a crook know if your name is Tara, Timothy or Tango?

2. Keep Your Checks in a Safe Place

A book of blank checks will make a criminal’s mouth water. You need to make sure you keep them on your person at all times. If you have to leave your purse or pocketbook in the car – put it in the glove-box so that it’s not visible to someone walking by.

When you’re at the gym, keep your checkbook in a locker with a combination padlock. Don’t just stick it in a cubby or on a shelf. You never know who might grab it when you’re not looking.

It’s also smart to keep all personal checks that you’re not using in a secure place at home. If you have a safe, lock them inside, otherwise make sure you have a good hiding place for you box of checks.

Even your mailbox can be an unsafe place for personal checks. When you send out bills, it’s better to drop them off at the post office or inside one of the big blue postal service boxes. If a potential thief sees that red flag up on your box – you could become their next mark!

Keep an eye on the check number sequence. If you ever notice a break in the sequence, it may mean someone ripped a check out of your book and hoped you didn’t notice. Call your bank as soon as possible to stop any payment on that specific check.

3. Be Smart When Writing and Endorsing Checks

Get in the habit of waiting until you’re at the bank to endorse any checks. An endorsed check can easily be cashed by a crook or deposited in their account. You can also write “For Deposit Only” on the back of your check.

One of the most common ways check fraud is committed is by physically altering the information written on it. Basically, a criminal could add a digit to the amount a check is written out for, or even change the name on the check by using household chemicals to remove the ink.

If you use gel pens instead of normal ball-point pens, the ink will absorb into the paper check’s fibers and it will be much harder to alter. You should also try to fill in all areas of your check completely or draw a line through any unused space. This will make it harder to alter the check.

It’s impossible to stop every evil doer from doing dirty deeds. But personal checks are a safe and efficient way to pay as long as you use them responsibly and follow these safety guidelines.

Let us know if you have any more safety tips of your own!

Image: Graeme Weatherston /