When you run a retail store or other business dealing directly with the public, chances are some customers will present American Express traveler’s checks for payment. People on trips like American Express traveler’s checks because they are widely accepted and, unlike cash, can be replaced if lost or stolen. Accepting traveler’s checks is good business. To avoid falling victim to crooks, learn how to check the validity of the checks.
American Express traveler’s checks have several security features. Hold the check up to a light. The watermark should show the American Express centurion image. Also, a security thread visible from the front and back of the check when held to the light says “AMEX.” On the front is a foil panel. This is a holograph. When tilted, it will show the centurion, the American Express logo, the currency of the check and the denomination. On the back of the check, the denomination panels on the left smear when wet. The right-hand denomination panels do not smear.
Customers are supposed to sign traveler’s checks when purchased and again when presenting them. Watch the customer sign and compare this signature with the original. The signatures should be essentially the same. Once you’ve authenticated the check, authorize it by going online to the American Express website or calling 800-525-7601 and enter the serial number. The system will either verify the serial number or give you a phone number to call for further assistance.