What’s cheque fraud?

While cheques aren’t as commonly used as they once were, cheque fraud remains prevalent. In this type of fraud, criminals use fake, forged or altered cheques to pay for goods or services. As a starting point, you can help protect against this by keeping track of the cheques you write and storing your chequebook in a safe place.

What are the types of cheque fraud?

Counterfeit cheques

Counterfeit originated cheques are falsely produced copies of cheques that were genuinely issued. Often the counterfeit copy will look just like the original cheque, with subtle differences. A counterfeit originated cheque will most often have a different payee, amount or both from that of the original. A counterfeit non-originated cheque will sometimes use a genuine customer’s BSB and account number.

 

Materially altered cheques

Material alteration of a cheque is where the payee/amount or other details originally printed/written on the cheque have been changed by the fraudster.

Lost/stolen (forged) cheques

This type of cheque fraud occurs when either single cheques or an entire chequebook has been stolen by the offender, and the signature on the presented cheque isn’t that of the drawer. 

How to avoid cheque fraud

  • Never accept cheques from someone you don’t know or trust
  • Be especially careful when the cheque is for a large amount – when selling a car, for example. Do not release goods unless the funds are cleared into your account as available funds
  • Keep your cheque book in a safe place
  • Check your bank account and statements regularly for unexplained cheque transactions
  • When writing a cheque, be sure to include full details of the payee, reducing the potential for fraud
  • Always draw a line after the amount and the payee details to stop anyone writing anything in the blank space. Also delete the words “or bearer”
  • Never leave spaces between any written figures
  • Cross your cheque for safety.  A crossing is two parallel lines drawn vertically on a cheque with the words “not negotiable” written between them
  • Never send images of your cheque to the payee
  • Only write in pen or ink (not pencil)

Things you should know

As this advice has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. The information provided on this page has been compiled by CommBank to educate you on ways to minimise the likelihood of being victim to fraud or experience unauthorised transactions on your accounts, and where to seek help if you believe either of these have occurred.