Standard Register Offering New Antiforgery Products

Standard Register Co. has introduced two products aimed at reducing banks' vulnerability to check fraud, now estimated to total $4.5 billion a year.

The products make it harder to alter the amounts and account numbers on most commonly forged documents, including personal checks, cashier's checks, and money orders, Standard Register said. The Dayton, Ohio-based company produces financial documents and printing equipment.

Technological Warfare

"Fraud has definitely increased over the past year," and more high-technology schemes are being seen, said one banker from a Chicago-are bank who asked not to be named.

One of the most common scams, in which a forger uses a legitimate deposit slip and a fraudulent check, occurs 2,000 times a day across the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The bona fide deposit slip is used to deposit the forged check and simultaneously withdraw part of the phony deposit.

New Weapons

Standard Register calls its two newest offerings Security Number Fonts and Image Lock.

Security Number Fonts are characters for use on the face of laser-printed cashier's checks and money orders. The numerals have been distinctively designed and given dissimilar sizes to keep forgers from changing low figures into higher ones. Also, the number is spelled out inside each numeral, and amounts are printed on a textured black background that smudges when erased.

Image Lock makes laser-printed characters stick better to documents, so forgers have more trouble erasing or changing amounts, the company said.

Ex-Con Man's Advice

To get the word out about check fraud, Standard Register has hired Frank W. Abagnale, a former con artist who claims to have cashed $2.5 million in bad checks by the age of 21. After prison stints in the United States and Europe, Mr. Abagnale started his own consulting firm, advising the FBI and corporations on how to detect check fraud.

Individual banks rarely talk about their losses, but Mr. Abagnale said that Security Pacific Bank lost $631,000 in one year from fraudulent checks.

His message to banks is this: "It's 10 times easier to do today what I did." The advent of relatively inexpensive technologies such as laser printers, document scanners, and sophisticated desktop publishing software has made check forgery much easier.

Compounding the problem, Mr. Abagnale said, banks have moved away from distinctively designed checks, instead issuing laser-printed checks on inexpensive, standard paper.

"What you want to do is make your check harder to copy than the check issued by the bank down the street," he said.

New color copiers are extremely accurate, but Standard Register offers check papers with blends of colors that most cannot reproduce accurately. On some machines, the blends activate a feature that prints "void" on the copy.

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