Archive for November 2013

Easy banking on iPhone with updated CIBC app

If you are willing to use your iPhone for fast and secure transactions, CIBC has just released an essential update to its classical app for Apple’s products. Mobile banking has never been easier, once you will try it, you will be delighted.

You will simply use the camera of your gadget and you will be able to deposit cheques, by the concrete snap of your document. This is a proof worthy enough for the Canadian bank to submit the further steps required in a mobile banking transaction. All in all, you don’t have to use an ATM or bank’s online services, to have your transaction performed, a couple of front and back pictures will help you save time. The update app is quite useful for businesses needing to sign multiple customer cheques, but also as individual user you can always enjoy the benefits of a comfortable mobile banking.

According to the bank’s representatives, this update will save the time of 11 million customers, an impressive number, if no technical trouble appears during the process. An interesting detail about this spectacular change is that the CIBC admitted that customers feverishly required the new method of payment, so the bank was just fulfilling their wish. You can do the same magic with your Android gadget too, the only exception established for the moment by the bank is that the service is available only for Canadian dollar cheques via eDeposit. Unfortunately, CIBC hasn’t mentioned when its BlackBerry and android app will receive the same update.

According to a financial report issued last year, it seems that other six major banks prepare their infrastructure in order to introduce a similar feature, so mobile banking will soon face a revolution. For the moment, ING Direct offers a similar app.

CIBC stated that the update is safe and secure, since none of your sensitive information regarding your money is effectively store on your gadget, which is transmitted wireless, but don’t neglect an extra-protection thanks to antivirus software.

Update (Dec. 12 2013):
CIBC announced that they are expanding innovative eDeposit service for business clients too by providing them with a desktop cheque scanner. Head over here for the full details.

 

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cheque Fraud – Part 2

Despite the widespread use of other payment methods, cheques still remain in use.  According to Statistics by the Canadian Bankers Association, Canadian financial institutions still process approximately one billion cheques every year.

Cheque fraud can occur in two different ways. They can either be stolen or fraudsters can make changes to them.  You need to not only protect your cheques from being misused but also from being given one of these fraudulent cheques.

Financial institutions have their own measures to detect if a cheque is fraudulent or not.  However, the common man may not have access to the tools that they have.  However, there are still certain ways in which you can detect whether you have been given a fraudulent cheque.

Most Canadian banks have certain security features built into their cheques such as watermarks or specific designs. These are generally printed on the back of the cheque. If the cheque you’ve been given is not original and has been scanned or photocopied, these intricate designs or watermarks will not be there.  This is one way that you could identify that the cheque is forged.

If you’ve been given a money order or a bank draft and you have certain doubts about their originality, it is always a good idea to call the bank that has issued the cheque to make sure it is genuine and the funds will be released once you deposit it. In addition, there are some basic precautions that should always be taken when writing or receiving cheques.  Always ensure they are properly dated and fully completed; if you see even minor signs of any alteration, do not accept such cheques; avoid accepting post-dated cheques; if a cheque was originally made out to someone else an then signed over to you, do not accept it; do not accept counter cheques.

Be wary of Cashier’s Cheque Fraud.  A large number of people assume that a cashier’s cheque is as good as cash.  That is not always the case.  Sometimes buyers make out a cashier’s cheque in excess of the purchase price of the product.  The buyer then asks the seller to pay him back the extra money.  This is an example of a cheque overpayment scam.  These could be done either through a lottery, auction or secret shopping offers.  You might end up realizing that the overpaid cheque that you deposit is a fake and although the funds may be registered immediately, once the cheque is actually processed, your bank will determine that it is fake.   You will then have to bear the penalty as well as the loss of any funds that you may have wired to the buyer for the amount that he had initially overpaid.

Overall, simple yet effective precautionary measures can help you minimize the chances of becoming a victim of cheque fraud.

 

How to Prevent Cheque Fraud – Part 1

Cheque fraud is one of the biggest challenges that are faced by financial institutions.  It is among the fastest growing crimes in the financial world.  It is being forecasted that cheque fraud will continue to grow by approximately 25% annually and will cause businesses in North America to lose more than $20 billion annually. The most common types of cheque fraud include counterfeiting, forgery and alteration of cheques.

With the constant advancement in technology, criminals have devised new ways to deceive their victims. These include counterfeiting of cheques as well as chemical alteration.  Cheques are often duplicated through the use of computer software and high-grade laser printers as well as sophisticated photocopiers.  Criminals also use chemicals such as bleach, brake fluid or acetone to modify cheques. Another form of cheque fraud is through paperhanging.  This is done by writing cheques on closed accounts or by reordering cheques on these closed accounts. Cheque Kiting refers to the fraudulent act of opening two or more accounts and misusing the float time to create balances that don’t actually exist.  This is also referred to as cheque washing.

The most common victims of cheque fraud are financial institutions and consumers.  There are several ways criminals can get access to your cheques. They can either steal it from your home or your car; they can pick up a canceled cheque or an old cheque that you may have discarded; or they can remove a cheque that you may have mailed to pay a bill.

While criminals use technology for cheque fraud, the same technology can be used to prevent this fraud. For example, the use of Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) ensures that the sorter is unable to read a cheque that is counterfeit.  Encryption is another technology that can help prevent cheque fraud.  Cheques are printed with a code that is not visible to the naked eye but can be used to verify the validity of a cheque when it’s scanned or copied.  The use of pantographs is also a useful strategy to prevent fraud.

Consumers can protect themselves from cheque fraud by taking certain precautionary measures.  Cheques should always be kept in a secure location.  Cheque books should not be left in cars or briefcases. Any unused cheques from closed accounts should be destroyed immediately.  If cheques are to be reordered, they should be ordered in a continuous set of serial numbers.  One set of cheques should be ordered per account.  If for some reason there is a transaction on your account that you are not aware of, it is best to report it immediately.

It is also a good idea to endorse your cheques by your financial institution.  Do not give your account number to anyone, unless and until you know for sure why the information is being requested and by whom.  It is also advisable to reconcile your bank statements on a regular basis.  When writing crossed cheques, mark them as not transferable.  If there is a risk of fraud in certain situations, use cash, card or online banking.  Avoid using cash cheques.  Never ever sign blank cheques.  Avoid posting cheques.

Consumers should opt for cheques that offer security features.  Today, many companies offer cheques that employ security features to prevent cheque fraud.  These companies use tightly controlled cheque printing procedures.  The use of magnetic toners has also prevented criminals from printing cheques at home since this method is more expensive and difficult.  Financial institutions also ensure that no unauthorized cheques are cleared unless and until the bank has been notified.

ChequesPlus.com provides its customers with cheques that feature multiple security features in order to minimize the risk of fraud and misuse.  They provide cheques for both Canadian and US accounts and all cheques provided by Cheques Plus include security features such as Microprint and pantographs to prevent fraud.

There is no doubt that dealing with cheque fraud is a challenge for both consumers and financial institutions. However, employing certain precautionary measures and using cheques that have built-in security measures can help minimize the risk of such fraud.  The second part of this article will talk about how you can prevent receiving fraudulent cheques and the measures that you can use to ensure you do not become a victim of such fraudulent activities.

Why Phasing Out Cheques Is Not The Answer

The Federal Government of Canada has announced that it will be phasing out the use of printed cheques completely by 2016.  The goal of the Canadian government is to save taxpayer dollars and to use tax money wisely.

While this may be effective as far as old age security benefits, Canada pension plan, child tax benefit and pension payments are concerned, this does not in any way indicate that the use of cheques itself is likely to disappear in the near future. According to the Federal Reserve, 90% of adult consumers in the US have a checking account as compared to 70% having credit cards.  Each year, more than 20 billion cheques are written for over 30 trillion dollars. There is no doubt that in the past twenty years, multiple payment options have evolved and the face of conducting financial transactions has been transformed. Nevertheless, cheques still continue to remain an efficient, secure and comfortable method of making payments.

Cheques offer many benefits to both consumers and businesses. First and foremost, cheques provide an additional payment option.  Despite the fact that consumers can use credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, money orders, travelers cheques, PayPal, Zoompass, Google Wallet etc., payment through cheques is still the second most commonly used method.  Secondly, cheques give consumers a little time to stretch out their payments since processing cheques takes longer than a transaction registering on your credit or debit card.  Small businesses can still utilize the float period and for personal transactions, one can always ask friends or family members to wait a few days before cashing a cheque if one is short of cash or if there has been a delay in receiving expected funds.

Cheques are also not associated with annual or monthly charges.  Any fees associated with cheques are still generally half of credit card processing fees that merchants generally charge today. Cheques are also more secure and harder to misuse since they have to be physically deposited or need to be forged in order to be misused. On the other hand, your credit card information in the wrong hands can be misused quite easily.  Identity theft is one of the most common problems associated with credit cards but most banks offer sufficient security for cheques to minimize any improper usage.  According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, 11,095 fraud reports were filed by Canadian victims in 2009 for more than 10 million dollars in losses.  Additionally, there are still many instances where identity theft and fraud with credit cards go unreported.

Payments made through cheques are protected by the Uniform Commercial Code and banking law and offer greater payment protection as compared to credit cards.  Credit cards have been associated with increasing number of disputed transactions and these transactions take months to be resolved.

Cheques are still a widely accepted payment method for bill payments and purchases.  They are also a safer alternative to carrying cash.  Businesses still prefer to pay each other and their vendors through cheque.  They do this because cheques provide them more control and improve their overall financial management. Also, generating cheques through the payroll system is a straightforward process. Direct deposit on the other hand requires more steps than cheques.  Cheques are also less expensive than direct deposit.  Companies like Cheques Plus offer affordable pre-printed computer cheques to clients across Canada. They also provide custom cheques for businesses enabling them to promote their brand more effectively.

Cheques are also easier to keep record of.  Most of us do not even know how much we’ve spent on our cards until we receive our credit card bills.  On the other hand, cheques help us monitor our expenses and keep control of our finances.  While preauthorized payments may be extremely convenient, there can be times when they can cause major financial headache.  Sometimes, payments you once authorized can become perpetual and despite repeated requests, funds can continue to be deducted from your accounts.  If for some reason, you forget to put funds in your account on the date of withdrawal, not only do you face penalties from the merchant/financial institution that was withdrawing the payment but your bank also penalizes you for non-sufficient funds.  When you make a payment with a check, you are more aware of the date that you wrote it and you are more likely to ensure that the funds are there for the cheque to clear.

Cheques also work very well for certain payments such as rent payments, school fees, donations, utility bills and so on.  Person to person transactions are also more effectively handled with cheques.  People don’t go around carrying debit machines and most people do not feel comfortable handing out their credit card information to another individual, even a friend. Cheques are a much better choice and work out most effectively in such situations. Cheques Plus provides consumers with cheques that have multiple security features in order to ensure minimum risk of fraud and misuse.  They also ship these cheques for free within 24 hours.

Overall, advancement in technology may have provided consumers several options but cheques are and will continue to remain one of the most commonly used tool for making payments.