Handle with care
• Keep only the stock you need – don’t order more cheque books that you really need. Cheque designs and layouts change to combat fraudsters – if you have lots of older cheques, you won’t benefit.
• Be wary of undelivered cheque books – contact us to make sure we’ve sent them.
• Watch out for missing cheques – flick through new cheque books to look for any cheques that have been stolen before they got to you.
• Stay secure – make a record of the new cheque books in your usual manner, and store all your cheques in a secure place. Our Office Security area has more information.
• Keep them separate – always store cheques away from your bank mandate.
• Stop sneak thieves – on no account should you leave cheques unattended in public areas.
• Audit your cheque books – regularly make sure that all unused cheques remain in the book. Double-check that none have been removed from the middle or towards the back.
Non-standard printed cheques
• Ask for guidance – want to customise your business cheques? All cheque designs need to have strict anti-fraud devices and other industry standards. We’re happy to give you the advice you need.
• Keep it simple – only have essential information on your printed cheques. The more information that’s on the cheque, the easier you make it for fraudsters. For example, avoid labelling the signature area with designations such as ‘Director’ and ‘Secretary’. This could give potential fraudsters valuable information about your company’s signing requirements.
• Keep your secrets – never print signing instructions on the cheque, such as upper limits.
• Stick to the order – write cheques in serial number order. And make sure all cheques remain in the book, with none removed from the middle or back.
• Write clearly - write or print starting from the very left of the cheque. Use reasonably large writing or font size.
• Be specific – when you’re writing a cheque to a large organisation such as HM Revenue and Customs, never simply make the cheque payable to that organisation. Always add further details on the payee line, for example ‘HM Revenue and Customs re JJ Jones Acc Ref 1234567’.
• Remove dead space - draw a line through unused areas, including the ends of lines. This stops fraudsters adding extra information. And don’t leave large spaces between words.
• Be careful with the figure box – never put a space between the ‘£’ and the amount you write in the figures box. And always draw a line through any spaces you don’t use after the numbers.
• Keep a record - account for spoiled cheques. And if you do spoil a cheque, make sure you destroy it properly.
• Avoid abbreviating the payee name.
• Be discreet - if you have to send a cheque by post, don’t give any clues on the envelope that could tell fraudsters what’s inside make sure that your envelope doesn’t advertise the contents.
• Be careful – the address on the envelope (for example, ‘HM Revenue and Customs’ can make it obvious there’s a cheque inside.
The risks of posting a cheque:
• Financial loss to your company - where a customer is the drawer of a
cheque which has not been altered and paid into an account other than
that of the intended beneficiary (i.e. Payee), there is no liability on the
Bank to pay the cheque / or reimburse the customer, as it has been issued
in accordance to the mandate.
• Reputational risk to your company - the intended beneficiary may issue
legal proceedings against your company for non payment
• Good Practice
Avoid using window envelopes when posting cheques, this makes it an easier target for fraudsters
Set up a BACs / Bankline or Online payment to pay regular suppliers and Government bodies e.g. HMRC
Consider sending high value cheques via secure mail e.g. Recorded / Registered Delivery
• Alternative Payment methods:
• Electronic payment methods
• Consider using an alternative means of transfer in preference to cheques – e.g. internet banking or use a secure method of delivery, especially for high values.
Reconciling your cheques
• Make a date to reconcile – You should really match the frequency of your reconciliation with the amount of cheques you produce. If you issue cheques every day, you should reconcile regularly.
• Keep it separate – it’s a good idea for one person to write cheques, and another to reconcile cheques.
• Go back to the paperwork – verify all the cheques you’ve written against underlying paperwork, such as invoices. This helps to make sure the cheques have been raised for legitimate purposes.
Audit your cheque stocks – to check for missing cheques and other anomalies.
• Be wary of late presentation – if a cheque hasn’t been presented after a reasonable time, you need to find out why. It’s also worth remembering that a missing cheque could have been stolen and paid into a fraudster’s account. At the same time, a cheque that is presented later than expected may have been ‘borrowed’ and the information taken for use in a future fraud.
Make sure and stay safe - if a cheque is overdue for presentation, talk to the payee, check if it was received and put a stop on the cheque if you have to.
Help with reconciliation
Electronic payments are the obvious way to help streamline your reconciliation process.
However, if you still need to issue a large number of cheques, there are reconciliation services which can reduce the burden on your business. Simply speak to your relationship manager.