Checks might not be as widely used as they once were, but they can still be very useful. However, if you are going to use checks, you need to be careful. Thieves are always scheming and devising new ways to defraud people out of their money. As long as you use some common sense and precaution with your checks, you shouldn’t have any problems. Here are three key tips for safe check usage.
Sending Checks Safely
Many people only use checks to pay bills. This means that they are sending checks through the mail. If you are doing this on a monthly basis, you need to be careful. First of all, never send a blank check. When sending the check, fold an extra piece of paper around your check before you seal the envelope. You want to make sure that the check isn’t visible when held up to the light. Also, always write “for deposit only” on the endorsement line. This means that nobody can cash the check. The recipient must deposit it into a specified account.
Lastly, always send checks with a service that offers tracking. If you notice that your check is heading in the wrong direction, you can immediately call your bank to stop the payment.
Use Checks Sparingly
Image via Flickr by RikkisRefuge Other
Many businesses prefer checks over credit cards because they are cheaper to process. But, just because a company prefers checks and you have some with you, this doesn’t mean you should always use that form of payment. The fact remains, checks aren’t the best way to pay for everything. Most of your daily transactions can be more easily paid using credit cards or cash.
You definitely don’t want to be writing a handful of checks on a daily basis, especially since many merchants ask for your driver’s license and then write your number on the check. This is a lot of sensitive information that could hurt you if it falls into the wrong hands. Even if you only deal with trustworthy, established businesses, there is a real risk that somebody could get ahold of and abuse this information.
Keep Record of Your Check Usage
With so many online tools, websites, applications, and other easy ways to monitor your checking accounts, the check register might seem obsolete. However, it is still a good idea to record every transaction in your checkbook, even if you are only using the written record to double-check and remind yourself of outgoing payments.
This is particularly important when mailing checks. The record of that check might not show up on your online account for a week or two after it is written. The check needs to be mailed, received, deposited, and cleared before it reflects on your account balance. But, if you immediately record the check before sending it out, you will have an easier time remembering it and keeping your account balanced.
As long as you take the appropriate safety precautions, you can use checks with confidence.