1. Deter fraud with a warning.
When you're including security features on a document, state them in a warning band. Just like a car theft, if a criminal sees multiple deterrents, he'll move on to an easier target.
2. Layer documents with overt and covert features.
Overt features are those that can be seen with the naked eye, such as bleed-through MICR numbering and foil stamping. Covert features are hidden and may require a device such as a magnifying glass (to see microprinting) or a black light (to see flourescent fibers and planchettes) to authenticate. Experts recommend that documents incorporate both overt and covert features. These include magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), void pantographs, watermarks, step-and-repeat designs, chemically reactive paper, flourescent fibers, multiple or unusual colors, warning borders, bleed-through numbering, padlock icons and warning bands, holograms, toner adhesion and prismatic printing.
3. Suggest features that fit the application.
"Documents need different grades of protection depending on their exposure," says Ed Boggis, a manager at Bradley Marketing Group in Fairfield, New Jersey. For example, fewer people handle payroll checks, so those checks might not require as many features as accounts payable checks. Although he recommends layering features, Boggis admits you can go overboard. He recalls a hotel that was a victim of fraud: It requested certificates with all the available security features even though it was ordering only 179 of the certificates for a barter program. Larry Willman, senior product manager at Wilmer, adds, "Offering different choices and levels of security, and understanding the application, is extremely important." The company offers three different laser check programs based on level of security, options and colors.
4. Consider the environment.
Only include features that can be verified by people receiving the documents. For instance, if cashiers don't have UV lights, don't add photochromic or flourescent ink to gift certificates. Similarly, while coin reactive inks are an option, they're useful only if the person receiving the document can scratch it with a metal object to reveal the black ink.
5. Explain due diligence.
According to the Uniform Commercial Code, a comprehensive law governing commercial transactions, companies can be held liable for check fraud if they don't show reasonable care ("due diligence") in trying to prevent it. Explain that to customers. Also, provide clients with a draft of a letter to send to their banks on their company letterhead. The letter can inform banks of security features included on checks. Aside from assisting banks in identifying fraudulent checks, it also provides companies some legal protection should fraud occur.
6. Teach internal safety measures.
Inform customers that negotiable documents should be kept in secure areas where access is limited. Boxes shoul remain sealed until ready for use, and mechanical signing equipment should be kept in secure areas away from blank checks. Distributors shopping security documents should be careful not to label cartons with words such as "checks" or "gift certificates" or other terms that may tempt theives. It's also a good idea to secure cartons with security tape, which customers should check for tampering when cartons arrive.
7. Tout your expertise.
To gain exposure and position himself as a security documents expert, Mike Steinberg, founder and CEO of Dover, New Hampshire-based distributorship Relyco Sales Inc., has made presentations on security documents at American Payroll Association meetings.
8. Develop community ties.
Local police and banks are allies when it comes to thwarting fraud. After being stung so often in the past, bankers are interested in reducing document fraud and may be eager to give referrals. Also, consider joining professional or community-based groups such as a chamber of commerce, and offer to give short presentations that promote document security.
9. Be honest.
"Nothing is 100 percent foolproof," says Randy Eubanks, owner of Suncoast Marketing Inc., a print and promotional marketing distributor in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. "If you run into a professional organization, I don't care what you do, they can commit fraud. So just be upfront that your role is to do the best possible job to keep the client as safe as possible.