Checkbook Basics: How to Obtain, Write, Send, Store and Dispose of Checks (Securely)

Woman sitting at her kitchen table fills out a check from her checkbook using secure tips from Minster Bank blog

Even though financial transactions today are increasingly paperless, there are still advantages to using a check book. They can help you avoid processing fees, leave behind a useful paper trail for your spending and give you a means of transferring funds should the internet be unavailable.

But are check books safe? How do you secure your check book? Keep reading to learn more.

How to Obtain Valid Checks

The first step to ensuring you use paper checks as securely as possible is to obtain them from your financial institution. They will provide you with checks approved by the Check Payment Systems Association. Such checks are marked by a padlock icon on the front and back.

Personal finance writer Aja McClanahan says “this signifies the check meets basic security standards.”

Closeup of the secure padlock icon on the front of a check in a checkbook

Store Your Checks in a Safe Location

To protect your check book from theft or fraud, store them in a secure and locked location along with your deposit slips, monthly statements and canceled checks.

Never leave your check book in your car, whether your car is locked or not. Deirdre Jannerelli, vice president at a New England financial institution, also recommends to “never carry a check book around with you.”

Mail Your Written Checks Securely

With more than 182 million pieces of first-class mail handled every day by the U.S. Postal Service, physical mail is a prominent target for thieves and fraudsters.

Internet security expert Jerri Ledford writes that your mailbox is “the riskiest non-technological point for identity theft.” With more than 182 million pieces of first-class mail handled every day by the U.S. Postal Service, physical mail is a prominent target for thieves and fraudsters.

One way to get around this problem is to send checks using a security envelope, with the check inside hidden between other papers. You should also avoid mailing bills from an unlocked personal mailbox. Instead, visit the post office or use an official U.S. Postal Service mailbox.

After sending the check, monitor your account closely to ensure it has been cashed. If you suspect it was lost in the mail, call your financial institution to place a stop payment on the check.

Related: The Ins and Outs of Online Check Deposits

Write Only the Necessary Information on the Check

When writing a check, never write more than the necessary information.

Do not write:

  • • Your credit card number
  • • Your Social Security number
  • • Driver identification number
  • • Telephone number
  • • Or any other type of personal information that criminals could use to steal your identity
  • • Do not leave blank spaces

“When writing out a check, always include a specific name on the line that says ‘Pay to the order of,’” advises Jannerelli. “Never write ‘Cash’ in this space, or leave it blank, as doing so will allow anyone to cash it.”

How to Securely Dispose of Your Old Checks

Old check books often include sensitive information like your address, name, and account number.

Old check books often include sensitive information like your address, name, and account number. Instead of simply tossing old checks and check books in the trash, make sure to dispose of them in a way that prevents potential fraudsters from accessing your personal information.

The most common method for disposing of old checks securely is shredding. Goliard Ruelas, founder of the How-To Dispose website, says that low-cost shredders are not ideal because they shred in long strips.

“Anyone can reassemble the long strips with the help of tape to get your personal information,” Ruelas said. Instead, use a cross-cut shredder or shredding scissors for extra security.

You can also employ the shredding services offered by your financial institution- like one of Minster Bank’s Community Shred Events, burn your checkbook via a safe and legal method or dissolve it in liquid, though this takes more time.

Minster Bank employees at Minster Bank Community Shred Event to securely dispose of documents for identity theft prevention.

Keep Your Checkbook Safe by Taking Necessary Precautions

Even in a world of contactless credit cards and digital payment apps, there is still a place for paper checks. However, make sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure your check book is kept safe from potential thieves and fraudsters.

For more resources on keeping your identity safe, follow these tips.

>> Learn More <<

Published by Minster Bank. Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

 

Member FDIC      equal-housing-lender Equal Housing Lender