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Don’t Write Personal Checks

Last weekend, the Consumerist [3] mentioned a story that fewer retailers were accepting personal checks this holiday season. They cited check fraud as the big reason for not accepting checks and I argue that check fraud is the big reason why many consumers should not write checks.

The personal check is one of the most insecure methods of payment.

Consider this test, I call it the internet safety test. If you took an image of a completely filled out of a check, how much of it would you have to black out before you’d feel comfortable posting it on the internet?

I’d have to black out the following:

Once you black out those six items, all that remains is the Payee, the amount, and the picture of Winnie the Pooh with his head in the honeypot. When you hand over that check to the cashier, you lose control over almost everything a thief needs to socially engineer your money away from an unsuspecting teller. If you were considering a check, get a debit card from your bank and use that instead. At least with debit and credit cards, you get consumer protection and limited fraud liability.

Don’t use checks unless you absolutely have no other choice.