In the past several months, the Anchorage Police Department has received hundreds of reports of check fraud and forgery from Anchorage citizens. While some of these reports stem from incidents such as burglaries or stolen handbags, many of the fraud and forgery cases could have been prevented by practicing good check security principles. Here are some tips that may help protect you and your checkbook from falling victim to check fraud:
If you write checks to pay your bills, TAKE THE CHECKS DIRECTLY TO THE POST OFFICE. A large number of recently reported check fraud cases occurred when checks were altered after being stolen from the victim’s mailbox.
- When writing checks, do not use regular ballpoint pens, as the ink is easier to remove. Use Gel Ink pens instead to make it more difficult to dissolve.
- When writing the numerical amount in the box, be sure to write large enough to eliminate extra space. Also, draw a line if there is still space after the last numeral. These steps will help keep individuals from changing the check amount.
- If you receive check orders via mail, CHECK TO MAKE SURE NONE OF THEM ARE MISSING. If you discover there are missing checks, immediately file a report with your bank and the police department.
- Keep your current checks, cancelled checks, bank statements, and any other account information in a safe and secure location. NEVER LEAVE CHECKS INSIDE YOUR VEHICLE.
- Limit the information posted on your checks. Do not include identifiers such as your driver’s license or Social Security Number. Consider using a P.O. Box instead of your home address. Do not write your credit card number on your checks.
For additional information concerning other common fraud schemes, visit the FBI's Scams & Safety page.