Check fraud is a common concern for many business owners. Approximately 51 percent of business payments in the United States are still made by check. Some companies prefer this payment method because it leaves an easily verifiable audit trail, it's easy to use and doesn't require setting up new processes and systems.
Despite the advancements in technology, many organizations have a difficult time switching to electronic payments. If you're still using checks, it's important to make sure they are valid. This payment method is an attractive target for fraudsters and carries a high risk of loss.
Luckily, there are plenty of services that allow you to verify a check online for free. Also, you can always contact the bank on which the check is drawn. This preventive measure will help you mitigate risks and avoid potential losses.
Use an Online Check Verification Website
Apply for a Merchant Account
Another option is to choose a check verification service and sign up for a merchant account. A good example is InfoMerchant. This online platform offers check and credit card processing services for businesses across all industries.
Sign up for an account and then either use virtual terminal software or order one of the processors offered by the company. Whenever a customer pays by check, request his or her driver's license. Write down the license number; slide the check through the processor or submit the required information online.
The system will either approve or deny the check. If the check is not valid, ask the customer to use a different payment method.
Check the Bank Routing Number
A third option involves performing a bank routing number search online to find the bank against which check is written. Contact the bank and ask them to verify the funds on a check you received. This service is typically free of charge.
The bank may require you to pay a fee or visit a local branch in person to access this information. Some don't provide this service at all due to privacy concerns. In this case, your only option is to use an online check verification website.
Even if you decide to use an online service, verify the security features on the back of a check. These include the words "Original Document," a security screen and microprinting. However, beware that no method is foolproof. To reduce the risks, get contact information from all customers who pay by check.