How to Spot Altered Checks

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Check fraud is very common and easily done. To protect yourself or your business from fake checks, you will need to learn the different methods of check alteration along with techniques to identify altered checks. Altered checks are easy to miss because they begin as legitimate checks that have had some of the information on them changed.

Things You'll Need

  • Sample Checks
  • Highlighter
  • Flashlight
  • Examine personal or business checks that you have in your possession. Learn to identify standard features and the location of these features: routing number, bank number, check number, bank information, payee, amount, date and signature line.

  • Look for alterations in the payee line and the amount line. If the original check writer leaves blank spaces on these two lines then they can be easily altered. A criminal may simply add a first or last name to the payee line and then obtain fake identification to cash the check. They may also add a number to the amount such as turning 49.99 into 449.99 and then cashing the check for the altered amount.

  • Examine checks to check for consistency in ink, writing style and color. You can often tell that a check has been altered because there is more than one type of ink used to write the check..

  • Run a highlighter across the bottom of the check to see if chemicals have been used to alter the routing number or bank account number. Chemicals or other agents used in check alterations may affect the consistency of the paper or ink. Holding a flashlight behind the check will sometimes show that the paper is thinner in some areas indicating it has potentially been altered.

  • Fan a group of checks and see if any stand out as looking different.

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