Date: 09th February 2022
5 mins min read
The frontline against fraudulent cheques
The banking industry continually reviews security measures to combat potential new challenges in cheque fraud. As a leading supplier, we’re on the frontline of enhancing security for businesses and individuals.
What are the latest techniques in secure print to protect businesses and consumers? We explore how stringent methods are fighting fraud.
Communisis’ market leading position has resulted in many of our secure print techniques becoming industry standard. We print cheques, letter-cheques and near-money products for businesses, individuals, government departments and many more.
On August 6, 2019, Carl Fayers, Process Manager from our Secure Print facility in Crewe was approached by the police to assist them in identifying counterfeit cheques in an investigation.
Over his 20+ years career at Communisis, he has developed an intricate understanding of cheques. The police presented Carl with over 40 cheques, supposedly ‘printed’ by high street banks.
Crewe’s Security Print Facilities protects our clients’ cheques printed and cashed every day, with pioneering security criteria. By following this criteria, Carl was able to confirm to the police that most of the cheques were fake.
Carl determined that in most cases, the print finish was incorrect, there were inconsistent UV features, and most of them did not include an E-UCN (unique coded number).
A total of £238.5m of cheque fraud was prevented in 2020, actually a significant drop due to the COVID lockdown restrictions.
This goes to show there are a multitude of fraudsters still at work in the production and use of counterfeit cheques and near money products, such as vouchers and gift cards.
Keeping your records in check
A fully maintained audit trail is a basic principle of our security printing at Communisis. Cashiers may not be as vigilant with near money products, so it is vital that your business knows exactly which products are in circulation. You should be able to trace any one back to its source.
In the event of suspected fraud, a detailed audit trail will allow the business owner to call up records of specific products and check for duplicates, discrepancies in numbering, and outright forgeries.
Cheques in the UK now clear digitally, through an image-based clearing system. Fantastic advantages include significantly faster clearing times and the ability to cash cheques via online / mobile banking. It does, however, present certain risks around changing security measures.
Communisis addressed this issue early on with an Electronic Unique Coded Number (e-UCN) system, tested with leading high street banks over a three-year period.
The technology uses a complex algorithm to generate a unique code, lasered onto cheques. The clearing process automatically holds suspect cheques for investigation when the code cannot be decrypted by bank keys.
The e-UCN feature adds a level of security that accounts for changing customer habits, including the huge increase (73%) in digital banking we saw throughout 2020.
Fraudsters are always finding new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses. Even with security measures in place, it’s important to always stay vigilant.
One of the most popular scams still seen, according to Action Fraud Police, is a request for a return of funds due to accidental or overpayment. The fraudsters will create a wide array of imaginary circumstances to request the funds after payment.
Your bank may not pick up on a fraudulent cheque, meaning funds can sometimes appear in your account. It may seem like you already have the money secured. However, banks can debit your account after the funds have appeared. Always call and check with your banking partner AND leave a significant amount of time before returning any funds.
The most important step in any kind of fraud prevention is awareness. Businesses should frequently review security procedures and engage their staff on fraud prevention.
You can also talk to your supplier about preventing cheque and near money product fraud. We are always happy to help you in keeping your business safe!