A recent article in American Banker highlights the Federal Trade Commission’s idea of banning remotely created checks (RCC), also referred to as Pre-Authorized Drafts (PAD) by telemarketers. These merchants create RCCs by using bank account and routing numbers, creating a “check image” for payment processing. These are unsigned checks that are governed mostly by state laws without full recourse when unauthorized transactions are made.
The article states that “remotely created checks have little or no systematic fraud monitoring, unlike credit card purchases and automated clearing house transactions. The checks have been used to perpetrate scams involving bogus charities, pharmacy discount cards, useless fraud prevention services, payday loans and more”, Malini Mithal, assistant director of the FTC’s division of financial practices said.
And you know what? He’s right. We’ve talked to many large and small banks across the country and most look the other way toward new fraud prevention tactics until it’s too late. RCC/PAD fraud has hit a number of banks pretty hard with 6 digit losses. Even Michael Blume, the director of the Justice Department’s consumer protection branch, wrote to the FTC, “Banks and processors sometimes unlawfully ignore return rates and other telltale signs of fraud.”
Is RCC fraud preventable? Think about these techniques:
- Detect RCC/PAD items at the paying bank using PAD detection technologies. The paying bank can return these items same day or next day very easily, protecting their customers.
- If a fraudster makes a deposit at the bank of first deposit, then you can use the RCC/PAD detection there, either at teller or downstream before clearing.
- If the item is deposited via RDC, then the BofD or paying bank can detect it.
We agree with David Walker of ECCHO: “We don’t see the factual basis for singling out remotely created checks,” says David Walker, president and chief executive officer of the Electronic Check Clearing House Organization, a bank industry group that establishes rules for the exchange of checks, including those that are remotely created. “People write bad checks. And so that doesn’t say that we should just ban checks.”
Next step? Either step up the fraud prevention or budget the losses…