by Susan Paige
Checks are nothing more than written instructions for the bank to transfer money from one account to another. In a perfect world, people would just write the information down on a piece of paper and send it to the bank. However, that’s not the world we live in.
As seen in the Leonardo Dicaprio movie Catch Me If You Can, check fraud is very real. The movie showcased the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., a former con artist who used to routinely forge Pan Am paper checks. While the movie was dramatized the incidents were all real. That was in the 1960s. Till then paper checks have come a long way and is now armed with more security measures. Even with the aid of modern-day scanners and printers, criminals face an impossible task to duplicate or alter a check. So, next time you are buying a checks book online, remember that there are security measures at play to keep your money safe from fraudsters. Following are 4 incredible check security features hidden in plain view.
The Harmless Looking ‘MP’ Logo: The small ‘MP’ logo on a paper check is easy to overlook. It’s always preceded by a line or what seems like a line. Look closely with a magnifying glass and you will find tiny printed letters. Adding meaning to the MP logo, these micro printed letters are extremely difficult to copy using scanners and printers. Micro printed texts are pretty much considered a standard security feature for personal and business checks.
The Generic Padlock Sign: Much like the padlock sign beside a website URL, a lock sign on a paper check has hidden meaning. This lock icon on paper checks denotes that the check uses a minimum of 2 security measures that are approved by the CPSA (Check Payment Systems Association). The padlock also serves as a potent deterrent as criminals know that these checks are extremely difficult to forge.
The Understated Watermark Design and Letters: Some people think that the faded letters and designs that make up the background of a typical paper check are placed there for aesthetic reasons. However, they serve a very important role. Even the most high-end printers have a difficult task printing these watermarks, which makes check duplication almost impossible. Some watermarks even include advance staining technology. Armed with these, checks would stain and become void if someone tries to alter the check using solvents and chemicals.
The Overlooked Warning Bands: The warning band borders the check and is typically blue in color. This seemingly harmless looking band contains a text message that usually says that the original checks will have a blue-colored band. How’s this a security feature? Well, the thing is the band usually scans poorly and thus cannot be reproduced well using traditional means. Crooks often change the color to black to mimic the band. This is where the warning message comes into play and renders the check unusable.