Cheque payment security

Tips to protect your business when using cheques

What is cheque fraud?

Cheque fraud covers a range of things, from criminals intercepting cheques and altering details, to the printing of false cheques and forging signatures.

Here at NatWest, we use a whole range of fraud prevention and detection processes, but we also rely on the support of our customers to stay alert and follow good security practices. Together we can beat the criminals.

How to use cheques securely

  • Write cheques in serial number order and make sure all cheques remain in the book, with none removed from the middle or back.
  • Write or print starting from the very left and use reasonably large text, leaving no spaces. Draw a line through unused areas and don’t leave large spaces between words.
  • When you’re writing a cheque to a large organisation, such as HM Revenue and Customs, never simply make the cheque payable to that organisation. Always add further details on the payee line, for example ‘HM Revenue and Customs re JJ Jones Acc Ref 1234567’.
  • Be careful with the figure box. Never put a space between the ‘£’ sign and the amount you are paying. Always draw a line through any spaces you don’t use after the numbers.
  • Only have essential information on your cheques, avoid detailing designations such as ‘director’ and ‘secretary’ and never print signing instructions on the cheque, such as upper limits.
  • If you send a cheque by post, avoid using envelopes that reveal their contents and send high-value cheques via secure mail.

Reconciling your cheques

  • You should match the frequency of your reconciliation with the amount of cheques you produce. If you issue cheques every day, you should reconcile regularly.
  • If you need to issue many cheques, there are reconciliation services which can reduce the burden on your business. Speak to your relationship manager or usual customer service team.
  • Verify all the cheques you’ve written against underlying paperwork, such as invoices. This helps to make sure the cheques have been raised for legitimate purposes.
  • Audit your cheque stocks. Regularly check for missing cheques and other anomalies that might be signs of employee fraud.
  • Be wary of late presentation. If a cheque hasn’t been presented after a reasonable time, you need to find out why. It’s also worth remembering that a missing cheque could have been stolen.
  • If a cheque is overdue for presentation, talk to the payee, check if it was received and put a stop on the cheque if you need to. For further information on cheques and clearing visit Pay.UK.

Storing cheques

  • Keep only the stock you need. Cheque designs and layouts change to combat fraudsters. If you have lots of older cheques, you won’t benefit from this.
  • Want to customise your cheques? All cheque designs need to have strict anti-fraud devices and other industry standards. We’re happy to give you the advice you need.
  • Make a record of the new cheque books and store all your cheques in a secure place, and somewhere separate from your bank mandate.

Always think twice and make double checking second nature

Take Five logo

Take Five to stop fraud

Take Five is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. This includes email deception and phone-based scams as well as online fraud – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations.

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