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    How to Spot a Fake Check: Red Flags to Watch Out For

    Using checks to pay for products or services has long been the industry standard, and you probably have several clients who pay your company by writing you a check. In general, checks are a secure and reliable way to transfer funds. However, this has not stopped people from trying to forge checks in order to scam others or to steal money.

    The problem with fake checks is that they have become sophisticated and difficult to spot. In fact, some forgeries are so realistic, it’s difficult to distinguish the fake ones from the legitimate ones that you get when you order checks online for business.

    How to Spot a Fake Check: Red Flags to Watch Out For

    Here are seven red flags that you should watch out for in fake checks:

    1.  The Paper Type is Wrong:

    The easiest way to spot a fake check is to look at the type of paper that was used to print the check. Business checks, whether manual or printed, use a special type of paper called check stock paper. What’s more, one of the edges is usually perforated or rough. If all the sides are smooth or the paper feels wrong (too light, too smooth, too thin), the check could be a fake.

    2.  Check the Logo/Images:

    A legitimate check will show a bank logo that’s clear, crisp, and highly-defined. The most obvious sign of a forged check is if there is no logo for the corresponding bank anywhere on the face of the check. If the logo is smudged, pixelated, or unclear, it is also a definite sign that the check is fake.
    In some cases, there could be a clearly-printed logo. If this is the case and you still feel that there is something fishy with the check, you should look for the bank’s contact details. The address and telephone number of the bank should also be printed on the check. You can call the bank directly and verify if the check is legitimate.

    3.  Look for the Check Number:

    The check number should be printed on the upper right-hand corner of the check. Any check that does not have a check number is automatically fake!

    If the check does have a legitimate-looking number, you need to verify the check number against the MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) line. This string of numbers contains several pieces of essential information, namely the routing number, the account number, and the check number. The quickest way to verify a check using the MICR line is to see whether the numbers on the check correspond to the numbers on the furthest right side of the line.

    Another sign of a fake check is the numbers themselves. If the numbers are suspiciously low (from 100-400 for personal checks, and 1000-1500 for business checks), this could be a sign that the check is fake. The low numbers mean that the checks correspond to a newly-opened account, and statistics show that scammers generally try to write fake checks from new accounts.

    4.  Feel the MICR Line:

    Using your fingers, check the numbers printed on the MICR line. Legitimate checks have a printed MICR line that’s smooth to the touch. What’s more, the ink itself should look dull. If the MICR line looks shiny or feels raised against your fingertips, the check is most likely fake.

    5.  The Moisture Test:

    Real checks use a special type of ink that is moderately moisture-resistant. If you suspect that the check you have is fake, moisten your finger with a bit of water and dampen a part of the check that has ink. If the ink runs or blots, this is a sure sign that the check is fake.

    6.  The Signature:

    Have you ever signed a check? Notice that when you sign using your own signature, the motion is natural and flows freely. In many cases, forged checks have a signature on the line that’s shaky, erratic, or appears forced. If you have other checks from that particular customer, you can verify the current check with past checks to see if the signature matches.

    Another warning sign that you should look for is whether the signature appears to be printed digitally. In some cases, there are clients who do use e-signatures to sign checks because it is quick and convenient. However, if a certain client does not have a history of using e-signatures to sign checks, this could be a red flag as well.

    7.  Spelling Mistakes and Poor Grammar:

    Have you ever wondered why one of the hallmarks of many scammers seem to be poor spelling and bad grammar? This might actually surprise you, but studies have shown that the lack of English proficiency is actually a strategy!

    Remember, most scams are numbers games; these scammers are looking for people who, even when faced with something that’s so obviously faked, will still fall for it! This shows that you are a person who is gullible or careless enough to fall for these scams, and they will be emboldened to try to scam you even more.

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