It’s impossible to get a solid number on losses due to fraud because every reporting agency tracks them differently. But however you measure it, the facts are alarming:


  • Annual losses range anywhere from $6.1 billion to $14 billion.
  • Roughly 60% of businesses say they were targeted or actively suffered losses to fraud.
  • And check fraud is still the most prevalent form of payments fraud, making up anywhere from 77% to 82% of attacks.


The good news, however, is that with minimal effort and literally zero out of pocket costs, you can lower your risk factor and save money.


Just check your customers’ ID.


Ensuring you and your employees are checking for signatures on every card you see, and checking identification for every unsigned card or check taken as payment, is the quickest and easiest way to stop a thief in their tracks. After all, while the Fair Credit Billing Act states that cardholders are only liable for the first $50 of fraudulent charges on a stolen credit card, there’s nothing protecting you or your lost merchandise. Worse yet, there’s nothing that can gain back a customer’s trust once they learn that you accepted their stolen check or credit card as a valid form of payment.


Did you know that Visa and MasterCard expressly forbid merchants from accepting an unsigned card without a form of government-issued ID? Discover is even more strict, requiring unsigned cards be accompanied by two forms of ID, one of which must be government issued.


Ask yourself, are you and your employees asking for identification when presented with an unsigned card? With a check? Do you or your employees know how to spot a counterfeit check? It’s understandable, of course, that in this day and age of identity theft customers can be hesitant to show ID for in-store transactions. But if you make it clear to them that it’s for their protection as well as yours, they’ll be happy you checked. You have to value your business and your customers enough to ask, and be willing to refuse an insecure transaction.


So do yourself a favor and make it a habit to first check every credit card for a valid signature. Make sure you know the security features of the various card types and checks, and you look for them every time. Most of all, if there’s ever even the slightest moment of doubt about a method of payment, don’t be afraid to ask for ID. You’ll be surprised at how many fraud attempts you find, and stop.

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