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Cheque Fraud: How to protect your business

Accepting cheques on a commercial basis carries a high fraud risk. Stay vigilant with our top tips to avoid cheque fraud.

Although cheque use has fallen year on year, corporates are particularly vulnerable to cheque fraud as fraudsters know that many companies issue cheques in high numbers, with envelopes displaying company logos, and contents often visible through envelope windows.1

It’s important that you understand the risks and remain vigilant to protect your business.

1UK Finance Annual Fraud Report 2022

Types of cheque fraud

Cheque fraud can be split into the following three types:

Counterfeit

A cheque created on non-bank paper to look genuine.

Forged

A stolen cheque bearing a forged signature.

Fraudulently Altered

Where a fraudster changes the details on the cheque, for example the payee or the amount.

6 top tips

  1. Draw a line through all unused space, including after the payee name, the amount in words, and the amount in figures.
  2. Ensure that spoiled cheques are properly accounted for and destroyed.
  3. Keep cheques in a safe, secure location and never leave cheques unattended, signed or unsigned. If a new cheque book is due and does not arrive, contact Barclays immediately.
  4. Run regular audits of cheque stock. Any discrepancies should be investigated and you should inform your bank immediately.
  5. If you suspect a cheque book has been tampered with, check the numbers to ensure no cheques have been removed.
  6. Review bank accounts regularly - daily if possible - and report any suspicious or unusual entries to the bank. Any delays in a cheque being received should be followed up with the payee as this may indicate that the item has been intercepted in the post.

Occasionally, Barclays may contact you to confirm that a cheque payment is genuine. We’ll explain the reason for the call, and it's important that you provide all the information requested.

Contact us immediately to report any concerns or suspicions of Cheque Fraud by calling 0330 156 0155.

Accepting payments by cheque

Accepting cheques on a commercial basis carries a high fraud risk which may be increased depending on the nature of your business, for example if you are supplying goods or services immediately before the cheque is cleared. 

In these circumstances you should ensure that your business carries out adequate due diligence for cheque payments including:

  • Waiting until a cheque payment has cleared before releasing any goods or services
  • The same goes for any refund requests - a common tactic used by fraudsters is to grossly over pay by cheque and request that the difference is returned to them before the cheque clears, which subsequently bounces leaving the target out of pocket.

To avoid falling victim to the above scenarios you may want to consider alternative safer payment methods, such as electronic payments, particularly for high values.

Where to next

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