Knowing how criminals work gives you an advantage when defending yourself from crime. Fraud prevention is no different. Just as burglars are always looking for a dark, empty home with unlocked doors or windows, fraud criminals are always on the lookout for vulnerable documents. There are four basic forms of attack: counterfeits or copies that mimic secure documents, alterations, document theft and false issuance. Criminals, with their relentless 'efficiency' will gravitate to the least protected option you present.
Counterfeiting There are two important facets to recognizing a fake: training and authentication aids. No amount of document security can prevent an untrained person from accepting a bad bill. To protect your important documents, it is critical the item looks important and unique. The document should be printed on quality paper, integrating your logo and high quality graphics in addition to warning bands and special authentication features.
Four Critical Questions to Ask
1. How easy is it to fake your important documents?
2. How would an acceptor know if your document was altered?
3. How easy is it to find your most sensitive documents?
4. How well do you know the people who handle your critical and sensitive documents?
Once your critical documents are produced, a key part of secure document management is to train the people who accept these documents how to authenticate them. Warning bands or special instruction boxes on the document itself, can remind them what to look for. Security technologies, such as various specialty inks, are easily recognizable by the acceptor and can't readily be duplicated using a copier or computer printer.
Document Alteration Criminals have been changing the information on documents for decades. Techniques like check washing and cutting/pasting numbers in different sequences are well known and easy to combat by today's secure checks and other secure documents. Chemical stains reveal attempts at washing and erasable backgrounds reveal attempts at removing data. Secure inks are immune to the chemicals commonly used to wash.
Document Theft There are hundreds or thousands of checks in a single carton. How would you know if one was missing? Control numbers uniquely identify each individual item. Monitoring those numbers alerts you when one turns up missing and process controls will help prevent unscrupulous individuals from gaining access to a blank document. Tamper-evident seals can also alert you when a box is opened in storage or shipment.
Falsely Issued Documents Embezzlement is responsible for almost one-third of all fraud crime. Theft by a trusted insider occurs when no internal controls are in place. Standard Register has identified eight simple process controls that make it easy to stay honest, and actually provide enhanced protection for your trusted staff.
Knowing your customer is also a critical deterrent to issuing a document to an identity thief. When you deliver anything of value without validating both the individual and his or her authority to possess the document in question, you're just inviting fakes.
Many people understand the need for fraud prevention, but few recognize the need for a comprehensive defense. Think of it in terms of a four-door car. If you've locked two or three doors, but left one unlocked, where will the criminal enter? The same is true with your document defenses. Be vigilant in your secure document management efforts and you will go a long way toward preventing document fraud.