Check Images A New Frontier for Forgery?

By Wolfe, Daniel | American Banker, October 26, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Check Images A New Frontier for Forgery?

Wolfe, Daniel, American Banker

Even though they are protected by online banking passwords, the digital check images posted on banks' Web sites could be used for check fraud, warn some observers.

Technology vendors say it would be possible to modify their software to redact some details from the images and make it harder to create fake checks, but one banker says he is not concerned.

Christopher Leach, the chief information security officer for First Horizon National Corp. of Memphis, said that criminals have long stolen customers' checkbooks, but in the online world, they must now crack a password to gain access to checks.

"That's one additional control that you don't have with your checkbook," he said.

Mr. Leach said he is more interested in persuading his customers to shred their financial documents than he is in trying to modify the images posted on his company's Web site.

But Frank W. Abagnale, the president of the Tulsa security consulting firm Abagnale & Associates, said banks should reconsider the way they present check images.

Not only can the information on images be used to forge checks, but it could also facilitate identity theft, he said. Along with names, addresses, and account numbers, people are often asked to write their birth date and driver's license number on checks. Some states use Social Security numbers as driver's license numbers, and all of these details are included on the images of cancelled checks.

"I don't understand why the bank does not block the MICR line on the image or, for that matter, block the name on the check," he said. "To me, it's a very simple problem to solve."

Mr. Abagnale made his name as a check forger in the 1960s and 1970s. "What I did 40 years ago is now 4,000 times easier to do today."

He also said that it is no longer even necessary to forge checks; they can simply be purchased from a major vendor. "Today, there are over 200 companies selling checks online and through the mail," and if a customer has a distinctive check design, such as an image of Popeye, a crook can simply order checks with the same style.

Avivah Litan, a vice president and research director at the Stamford, Conn., market research company Gartner Inc., said that an online archive of check images can be a treasure trove for criminals -- potentially more valuable than a checkbook or a few cancelled checks.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Check Images A New Frontier for Forgery?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?