What the heck goes into printing a cheque?

Cheques were supposed to be phased out in the UK in 2018. The board of the UK Payments Council’s goal was “to ensure that by 2018 there is no scenario where customers, individuals or businesses, still need to use a cheque." However it quickly became obvious that the plan did not have enough public or political support and cheques continue to be popular in the UK, with more than 405 million being used in 2018.

Furthermore, Cheque & Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) research indicates 75 percent of UK businesses had either made or received a payment by cheque in the past month. A focus by banks on identifying lost or fraudulent cheques as they pass through the clearing system means that £9.50 in every £10 of attempted cheque fraud is stopped before a loss occurs. However, a minority of fraudulent cheques do get through.

There are three main types of cheque fraud:

Counterfeit – a cheque that has been created on non-bank paper to look genuine. It relates to a genuine account, but has actually been created and written by a fraudster for the purposes of committing fraud.

Forgery – a genuine cheque, however the signature is not that of the account holder. The fraudster has forged the signature by signing the cheque themselves.

Fraudulently altered – a genuine cheque made out by the genuine customer but it has been altered by a fraudster before it has been paid in (e.g. by altering the recipient’s name on the cheque or the amount. It is no longer a genuine cheque).

SG World’s cheque printing solutions incorporate industry-leading technologies and techniques to safeguard against fraudsters attempting to duplicate, alter, or counterfeit cheques. So let’s have a closer look at the anatomy of a cheque and all of the inbuilt security features which go into the printing process. 

Security Designs 

Complex patterns and shading used in the fugitive (the coloured patterned background on a cheque) make reproduction extremely difficult. We also use a micro print feature in the signature line which can only be viewed under a magnifying glass.

Secure Inks

A cheque is printed using a mixture of invisible and visible inks protecting all the vulnerable areas of the cheque i.e. payee line, amount in words and boxes.

Visible Ink

Our two colour cheque fugitive consists of both water and chemical based inks which combine to make a complex and attractive pattern sensitive to solvents and water-based reagents to prevent tampering. A printed cheque is subject to a “wet finger” test which clearly results in visible smudges.

UV Invisible Ink

Further protection against alteration is provided by the inclusion of a complex UV pattern covering the whole area of the cheque. This pattern is only visible under a UV light source which will help detect attempts to fraudulently alter the cheque. The fine lines in the pattern must be sufficiently close together for any attack on the vulnerable areas – even one of only a few millimetres - to cause damage to several lines of the UV printing. 

Water marked CBS1 Security Papers 

Unlike a normal piece of paper these specialist papers remain UV dull when under a UV light source so it's easy to see the special cheque UV markings. The paper will also discolour as a reaction when in contact with a variety of acids, alkalis, bleaches and solvents.

Industry Accreditation

The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company Limited (C&CCC) has managed the cheque and credit clearing system in England and Wales since 1985 under the auspices of the Cheque Printer Accreditation Scheme. SG World is a longstanding member of the CPAS which helps combat fraud by requiring that all cheques are printed to the highest security standards. 

We also have certification to ISO 27001 IEC27001-2013 (ISO 27001); the only auditable international standard which defines the requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). Having the ISO 27001 Information Security Management System, marks you out as being serious about safeguarding your IT and data.

For more information on SG World's cheque printing services click here.

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