The 6 Most Important Personal Check Security Features
As the popularity of online payment processing platforms like Paypal and Venmo increases, it’s easy to overlook the importance of writing and printing checks. However, this payment method is still important for many businesses and individuals, in a variety of situations. In many cases, checks are essential for avoiding bank transfer fees. If you’re looking for check printing and mailing services, there are several security features you should be aware of before purchasing that can ensure your money stays secure. While online transfers and purchases are usually the most secure option, they can sometimes be less convenient for either party involved with the transaction.
Contrary to popular belief, checks are still important for many people, not just for businesses. While most small businesses do accept other forms of payment, checks are an easy way to avoid credit card fees, including disputed charges and account closures. Many renters still pay each month with a check to avoid a bank transfer fee, and anyone who’s giving money as a gift might find it easier to write a check rather than go to the bank for cash. You can choose a denomination without too much of a hassle and easily track the progress of a withdrawal.
Check printing services might seem straightforward and simplistic, but there are often wide variances in the printing quality and professionalism. Large-scale companies like Walgreens, Costco, and Walmart offer check printing services, but they rarely carry the best security features, particularly for businesses. Purchasing checks directly from the bank is always an option, but you’ll need to work within the bank’s hours and you’ll often end up spending more than you should for something that should always be straightforward.
Check Security Features
Payment processing companies for businesses usually offer the highest value for business check printing and utilize the best security features. Certified checks, cashier’s checks, and payroll checks usually follow the security practices of these companies and help ensure a successful deposit. Here are a few of the security features associated with checks that you should always look for before choosing a printing service.
Controlled Paper Stock
The materials on which a check is printed play a substantial role in making a check as secure as possible. Controlled paper stock ensures that your check looks and feels professional while allowing for the smallest security features, such as microprinting and fibers, to show up correctly. The background of blank paper stock is usually dynamic rather than blank, ensuring the check appears at least somewhat unique to your business.
High-security checks are printed with thermochromic ink to make it immediately apparent if the check was recently tampered with before deposit. Thermochromic ink is used for most details on the center of the check and changes color in the event that it comes into contact with heat. Not all checks are printed with thermochromic ink. If you’re working with blank check paper, it’s unlikely that you’ll have access to this critical anti-tampering feature.
Custom fourdrinier watermarks are an important security component for document security across the board, not just for checks. The watermark usually crosses the check at an angle and shows as a visible layer beneath the primary payment information. In the event that the document is copied, the watermark will mark the new document as a copy, to ensure it’s never deposited. The fourdrinier watermark for blank check paper is rarely customized to the business, which means you’ll want to switch to a more formal check printing service for more professional and higher security results.
Microprinting adds numbers or other recognizable symbols to the surface of the check that are usually impossible to read without magnification. These numbers can help payers track the checks they send. If the check is copied, the microprinted numbers should no longer be readable. Microprinting is also an essential process for making currency, requiring special printer plates and ink. For United States currency, it’s easy to overlook the existence and importance of microprinting completely.
Chemical Sensitivity & Wash Detection Box
On the back of any check, you’ll often see a small box marked as a wash detection box. If someone attempts to tamper with the check by washing away the signatures or payee information with chemicals, the wash detection box will ensure the check is not able to be deposited by changing color. Chemical washing is the most common type of tampering that leads to fraud, so it’s crucial to get checks with this security feature. Luckily, this security comes standard from most companies.
Safe Mailing Practices
A considerable part of check security comes down to what the payer and payee do in order to exchange the physical check. Security envelopes are an important place to start and ensure the document is not unreadable without breaking the envelope’s seal. Security envelopes may cost slightly more but are always a worthy investment.
If you’re sending a larger amount of money through the mail, particularly with a check, you may want to consider certified mail. Certified mail speeds up delivery to the level of first-class mail and requires a signature on both the payer and payee’s end. The less time a check spends in the mail, the more likely it is to arrive safely at its destination. If you’re looking at check printing services, you’ll always want to choose the option that can mail your checks within a day or two. In many ways, it’s up to you to make sure your checks are secure. While checks are always convenient, online payment processing platforms are usually considerably more secure, and in many cases, just as easy to use.
This article has been published in accordance with Socialnomics’ disclosure policy.