If none of the following FAQs answer your question and you think you have been the victim of cheque fraud, contact your bank immediately.

Robust fraud detection mechanisms enable banks to focus on identifying lost or fraudulent cheques as they pass through the clearing system – it means that £9.50 in every £10 of attempted cheque fraud is stopped before a loss occurs. As of 2015, losses through cheque fraud are at their lowest since records began. However, one way of helping customers to try and avoid falling victim is to raise awareness about what kinds of cheque fraud are attempted by criminals. 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).
  • Ensure that any blank spaces on your cheque are crossed through, i.e. after the name of the person or business you are paying and also after the amount in words.
  • Don’t leave large spaces between words.
  • Always use a black or blue ballpoint or a pen with indelible ink so that your writing cannot easily be erased or altered.
  • If you are sending a cheque in the post, make sure that it cannot be identified as a cheque through the envelope (enclose the cheque in a folded sheet of paper, for example). You may wish to consider alternative methods of payment for high value transactions.
  • If you are making a cheque payable to a bank or credit card company to pay off a credit card bill, always ensure that you provide sufficient details about the recipient and enter the full details for the account holder in the recipient line.
  • Keep a regular check on your account statement to monitor your cheque payments.
  • If you are expecting to receive a new chequebook and it does not arrive promptly, contact your bank.
  • Always make sure that your bank has your up-to-date contact details so they can get in touch with you if they suspect there is a problem with your account.
  • Always complete all of the details on your bank giro credit slip.
  • Always use a black or blue ballpoint or a pen with indelible ink so that your writing cannot easily be erased or altered.
  • Keep a regular check on your account statement to monitor what you are paying in to your account.
  • Always make sure that your bank has your up-to-date contact details so they can get in touch with you if they suspect there is a problem with your account.

Business customers should ensure that:

  • they always use an accredited cheque printing company to produce their cheques
  • they use an approved model of laser printer to infill cheques and
  • regular audits are carried out on all accounts.

The decision on whether to check the signature written on a cheque against the one that the bank holds on file is a business/risk decision for each individual paying bank to undertake.

Typically, each bank will have determined a value for cheques, above which the signature is always checked, and below which it may not be. There are around one and a half million cheques written every day – so it is neither practical nor are banks resourced to check that the signature on every cheque exactly matches the one that they hold on file for a customer. This is not a new development, and has been an established banking practice for the past twenty years or so.

Forged cheque fraud typically involves a stolen cheque used with a fake signature. However, if the victim realises that their chequebook has been stolen and reports the loss to their bank, then a stop can be put on cheques from that chequebook and the cheque would not be cleared/paid. Customers are typically their own first line of defence with regard to this fraud, but it is also important to remember that innocent victims of fraud whose cheques or chequebook are used fraudulently will be refunded.

However, the signature is only one small part of the fraud detection and prevention measures that banks employ – measures which have contributed to cheque fraud falling to their lowest since records began.

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. As of 2015, losses through cheque fraud are at the lowest since records began.

Fraud prevention techniques being used by the industry include: the use of intelligent fraud detection systems, which help to identify unusual payments; ensuring that all cheques are printed to the highest security standards by members of the Cheque Printer Accreditation Scheme (CPAS); and banks’ ongoing sponsorship of a special police unit that is tasked with targeting organised crime gangs that commit payment fraud, including cheque fraud.

Our advice is:

  • Never accept cheques from someone you don’t know.
  • Never accept a cheque for a higher value than you are expecting. (This is a common scam, and the initial cheque is normally fraudulent in some way - stolen or counterfeit - or the fraudster may simply not have sufficient funds in their account to cover the cheque.)
  • Always wait until after the end of the sixth working day before you hand over the goods you are selling. At the end of the sixth working day after paying in the cheque you can be certain that the cheque will not bounce and that the money is yours to keep, unless you are a knowing party to fraud To be sure when the money is yours, use the cheque checker provided on this site or if you are paying a cheque into a bank in Northern Ireland you can go to the BBCC website (www.bbccl.co.uk).

Following the introduction of the 2-4-6 cheque clearing timescales, if you accept a cheque you can be sure that at the end of six working days (after paying a cheque or bankers' draft into their bank account) the money is yours. You are protected from any loss if the cheque subsequently turns out to be fraudulent - the funds cannot be reclaimed without your consent unless you are a knowing party to fraud or you have been negligent in some way.

However, if you do not wait until the end of the sixth working day, and decide to withdraw and spend funds before that, you do so at your own risk. If the cheque subsequently bounces before the end of the sixth working day, you may have to return the funds to your bank or building society. To be sure when the money is yours, use the cheque checker provided on this site. 

You are protected and can keep the funds from the cheque provided you are not a knowing party to fraud or have been negligent in some way and have kept to the terms and conditions of your account.

If there is a dispute, each case would be looked at on an individual basis, and you can seek redress through your bank or building society's own formal complaints procedure. Under BCOBS (the Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook) all banks and building societies are obliged to tell their customers how to go about this. Failing a satisfactory resolution, you can refer your complaint to an independent assessment by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

It means you know about the fraud and/or were one of the people involved in perpetrating the fraudulent transaction.

You should only accept a cheque or banker’s draft from someone you know and trust.

If a cheque is found to be fraudulent after the end of the sixth working day after a cheque has been paid in, you are protected and can keep the funds from the cheque provided you are not a knowing party to fraud.

Each case would be looked at on an individual basis and the facts would be assessed against the evidence. If there is a dispute, you can seek redress through your bank or building society's own formal complaints procedure (the Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook sets out how to make a formal complaint); and ultimately you may refer a dispute to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Unless you have breached the terms and conditions of your account with your bank, you will not suffer any financial loss as a result of another person fraudulently using your chequebook or altering your cheques. Banks consider all incidents of cheque fraud on a case-by-case basis and take reasonable steps to ensure that cheques are genuine before they are paid.

If, during the processes followed when paying a cheque, your bank becomes concerned that a cheque may not have been written by you, or that a cheque you have written may have been materially altered, your bank may contact you for confirmation that the cheque came from you and has the correct payment details.

Following the introduction of the 2-4-6 cheque clearing timescales, a customer accepting a cheque can be sure that at the end of six working days (after paying a cheque or bankers' draft into their bank account) the money is theirs. They are protected from any loss, should the cheque turn out to be fraudulent - the funds cannot be reclaimed without the customer's consent unless the customer is a knowing party to fraud or has been negligent in some way.

However, if you do not wait until the end of the sixth working day, and decide to withdraw and spend funds before that, you do so at your own risk. If the cheque subsequently bounces before the end of the sixth working day, you may have to return funds to your bank or building society. To be sure when the money is yours, use the cheque checker provided on this site or if you are paying a cheque into a bank in Northern Ireland you can go to the BBCC website (www.bbccl.co.uk).

Yes, but it is advisable to accept a cheque or banker’s draft only from someone you know and trust.

Be aware that, until a cheque has been cleared at the end of the sixth working day after you have paid it in to your account, it can be returned unpaid (i.e. bounce) for lack of funds in the payer’s account and there is a risk that the money could be reclaimed if the cheque turns out to be stolen, fraudulently altered or counterfeit. To be sure when the money is yours, use the cheque checker provided on this site. 

It is better to ask for payment for high-value items to be made by other means (an internet or phone banking payment or a CHAPS payment).  These are quicker methods of payment – both are same-day and are irrevocable ways to pay.

Be aware that bankers’ drafts or building society cheques (by which we mean a building society cheque that is issued and signed by an officer of the building society itself rather than a personal customer) are not immune from fraud and can be stolen, altered or counterfeited.

So, if you receive a banker’s draft in payment for goods, you should wait until you have certainty - at the end of the sixth working day after you’ve paid the draft in to your account - that the money is yours before handing over the goods.

No – you should be aware that bankers’ drafts or building society cheques (by which we mean a building society cheque that is issued and signed by an officer of the building society itself rather than a personal customer) are not immune from fraud and can be stolen, altered or counterfeited.

So, if you receive a banker’s draft in payment for goods, you should wait until you have certainty - at the end of the sixth working day after you’ve paid the draft in to your account - that the money is yours before handing over the goods.

Contact your bank immediately to stop the missing cheques. Make sure you check your bank statement thoroughly and notify your bank of any discrepancies.

Always contact your own bank in the first instance to stop the payment and get advice from them before issuing another cheque to replace one that may have been intercepted.

No, you should never sign a blank cheque. If it is completed and paid into an account other than the one you intended or paid for a different amount, you could be liable for any loss.

No, you should never accept a cheque from someone that you do not know and trust, and never accept a cheque for a higher value than you were expecting. If you do accept a cheque for a higher value you could fall victim to a common scam whereby the initial cheque is fraudulent in some way (stolen or counterfeit) or the fraudster may simply not have sufficient funds in their account to cover the cheque.

You should contact your own bank immediately and explain the situation.

All frauds are looked at on an individual basis, and if you feel you are in dispute on this you can seek redress through your bank or building society's own formal complaints procedure. Under BCOBS (the Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook) all banks and building societies are obliged to tell their customers how to go about this. Failing a satisfactory resolution, you can refer your complaint to an independent assessment by the Financial Ombudsman Service.