One of the more frequent means by which customers are defrauded is by cheque interception. On average, a cheque is handled by up to 20 people from the time you make it out to the time your branch pays it. This means that there are numerous opportunities for the cheque to be intercepted. This happens most commonly when cheques are posted. Another common way in which customers are defrauded is when accepting a cheque or bank deposits when selling goods. Often the cheque or the deposit turns out to be fraudulent, resulting in the seller losing both the goods and the payment. We would strongly advise that you never release goods until you are certain that the payment is valid. Always wait for the funds to be cleared before releasing goods, even if it seems to be a bank issued cheque. While the cheque may appear to be genuine, it could be forged or stolen. Never accept a faxed bank deposit slip as proof of payment. Amounts and details can easily be changed to reflect a higher value. Check with your bank first that the correct amount has been deposited and whether the deposit is cash or cheque. If it is a cheque deposit, wait until the cheque has been paid (usually this will take seven days) before you release goods.
Some Sensible Safety Tips
The person writing out a cheque should always attempt to use a ballpoint pen instead of making use of pens with more erasable inks like fountain pens.
To prevent unauthorised additions and/or alterations, commence all writing as close as possible to the left-hand margin, leaving no gaps and drawing a line through unused spaces.
If you don’t want your cheque to be cashed, ensure that it is crossed so that it can only be paid into the intended beneficiary’s account. The cheque should be marked with the words "Not Transferable" between two transverse lines.
Always keep your cheque book in a safe place to prevent unauthorised use.
Always keep your cheque book separate from your credit cards, ATM cards or any other document that bears your signature. If a thief gets hold of your cheque book, but does not have a sample of your signature, a forged signature will probably not resemble yours.
All paid cheques that are returned with your bank statement should be kept in a safe place because they contain your signature. Fraudsters may even try to re-use these cheques.
Do monthly reconciliations on the cheques that were issued on your account.
Regular recons should be done on all unused cheques in a cheque book against the counterfoil.
Report a stolen cheque book to your nearest Bank of Athens suite as soon as possible. There is also the ability to stop a cheque online via Bank of Athens’ Internet Banking.
Avoid posting cheques but should it be necessary, place them in non-transparent or dark envelopes without any staples/paper clips, which can be felt through the envelope.
Never sign a blank cheque ahead of time since fraudsters can simply fill in the details to suit themselves.
When you receive a cheque, keep it in a safe place and deposit it as soon as possible. Remember that a cheque becomes stale after six months.
Consider making electronic payments where possible.
ATM / Debit Card
Trapping your card in the ATM slot is one of the means used by criminals to distract you. They are known to use your frustration to build a relationship of trust with you, and thereafter trick you into giving away your PIN and bank card. Once they have your PIN and card, they are free to withdraw money from your account.
Protecting your Bank Card & Pin
Your bank card and PIN are your personal keys to secure banking. Criminals are aware of this and use various tricks to steal them in order to access your money. Often they look over your shoulder when you are busy at the ATM and steal your PIN and then come up with ways of getting hold of your card to skim it. In that way, they will have both your card and PIN and are free to steal money from your account.
Protecting your Cash after withdrawal
Criminals are known to identify banking clients that have made cash withdrawals from ATMs. These customers are then followed and robbed of their cash. Make sure that you don’t set a pattern of large withdrawals on a regular date or at a regular site. Remain vigilant at all times. Ultimately, cash withdrawals are always a risk and there are many solutions that are safer than large cash withdrawals and we would strongly encourage you to discuss these with your relationship manager.
Please remember the following
Your PIN (Personal Identification Number) must remain a secret, preferably memorised, or else kept completely separate from your card.
While a card is issued with a random PIN, customers can change this to any number at any time at a Bank of Athens suite.
Your PIN should be easy for you to remember but difficult for anyone else to guess.
The rule is simple: don’t ever give your PIN to anyone, not even to a bank official. A bank official will never ask you to reveal your pin.
Shield the ATM or in-store keypad as you punch your PIN into the machine to prevent criminals from peering over your shoulder and keep your hand over the card slot so that no one can swap your card.
Do not insert your card until asked to do so by the display screen and do not use an ATM that is obscured from view or poorly lit.
Important ATM Risks
Follow the on-screen instructions carefully.
Avoid drawing cash late or when you are alone.
Do not force your card into the card slot.
Leave the ATM immediately if you don’t feel safe.
Set your daily ATM withdrawal limit at your nearest business suite.
Be in the company of someone you trust when making large cash withdrawals.
Think of using the ATM to make transfers instead of drawing large amounts of cash.
Never let anyone stand too close to you when using the ATM.
Be alert and conscious of your surroundings when using an ATM.
Never hurry when using an ATM. Make sure you are not distracted, intimidated or rushed into your transaction and never openly count the cash you withdraw.
Never accept help from strangers when using the ATM. You should be aware that criminals work in teams - one to distract you while the other steals your card.
If your card is retained (swallowed) by the ATM, phone the toll free number displayed at the ATM to stop your card. Follow the same process if you lose your card and do not leave the ATM until the bank confirms that your card has been cancelled.
Never allow a bystander to call the toll-free stop card line on your behalf - they may trick you into believing that they have phoned to place a stop on your card; and do not use someone else’s phone.
Guards are placed at ATMs to discourage criminal activities and therefore cannot help you with your transaction - if you need help, ask a bank official.
Be careful when withdrawing cash. Wherever possible rather make payments with a Debit Card, via Internet Banking, etc.
Do not leave your bag, purse or wallet unattended – always keep an eye on your belongings.
Never save your password on your desktop as it may allow others to access your personal information without your permission.
Do not make your passwords too personal - rather create passwords that have letters and numbers that cannot be attributed to you.
Never provide your internet ID or password/PIN to anyone; never write them down or share them, not even with a bank official.
Never provide your internet ID or password/PIN to any site that you do not recognise and fully trust.
Only provide your internet ID or password/PIN when your browser shows a secure connection directly to the Bank.
Do not leave your computer unattended after you have entered your internet banking password.
Always log off or sign off at the end of a session.
For your security you only have three attempts to enter your PIN/password correctly before you are denied access to our services. If this occurs, you will need to go to the nearest business suite to reset these passwords/PIN.
Do not open email from unknown sources.
Beware of emails that ask for passwords, PINS, credit and debit card information.
Avoid doing internet banking in public areas such as internet cafes as you do not know what software is loaded and this may compromise your transactions.
Make sure no one has unauthorised access to your PC or laptop.
Be especially aware that there are no security cameras trained on your PC and keyboard.
Ensure that you have the latest anti-virus software applications loaded on your PC or laptop.
Make sure the software on your PC or laptop is correctly licensed.
Update your operating system and browser with the latest patches.
Install a personal firewall on your PC or laptop if you use a dial-up modem.
Only provide your credit card details to reputable companies.
To ensure that you are using a secure shopping site, look for the lock and key and the security certificate online.
Beware of internet fraud e.g. "Phishing". This is most commonly done through email and a fake website, claiming to be from a bank or other institution and asking you to confirm your personal details. Fraudsters use various ways of enticing you to confirm your personal information.