Skip to content

Counterfeit U.S. Government Checks

Counterfeit U.S. Government Checks

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco notified the banking industry early in June of the existence of millions of dollars worth of counterfeit U.S. government checks.

In April one institution, on the west coast, servicing a foreign correspondent, accepted $14.5 million worth of the counterfeits, and has now set aside $5 million in the first quarter to cover bad government checks.

The Secret Service in Philadelphia and New York also have counterfeit government checks under investigation.

The checks, according to authorities, are on the old, green "card" stock. Authentic government checks are now issued on beige, multi-color paper stock.

Because the MICR line is machine readable on the counterfeits, financial institutions' best defense against acceptance depends on the teller.

According to Fed, the checks are not sophisticated counterfeits, and can be detected by the naked eye. Some of the tell-tale signs of these counterfeits are:

  • Issued on green card stock
  • Lack a symbol in the upper right-hand corner
  • MICR line with typewritten or missing information
  • Bleeding (blurred printing) in the shoulder area of the Statue of Liberty
  • An alert teller will stop this con game before it causes a loss.

Be aware that if the counterfeit checks get past the tellers, they may be a long time getting back to you.

CAUTION! When the public is notified by the U.S. Government of the fact that their old checks will be stale dated after October 1, 1990 we will have people bringing in "old, green 'card' stock" checks that they have been holding on to. These green checks will be void after October 1. Therefore, it is almost certain there will be an increase of this counterfeit activity over the summer months. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!

Editor's note: Please waste no time duplicating the above article and circulating it to all tellers and front line personnel, as well as to proof and transit!

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 6, 7/90

First published on 07/01/1990

Banker Store View All

From training, policies, forms, and publications, to office products and occasional gifts, it’s available here:

Banker Store

hot right now

image description

Looking for effective, convenient training on a particular subject?

BOL Learning Connect offers more than 200 courses ON-DEMAND or on CD ROM from AML to Reg Z and every topic in between.

Search Topics