We have recently had several claims involving fraudulent checks. Sororities aren’t the only victims. In an alert sent out in February, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, reported that, “Despite the declining use of checks in the United States, criminals have been increasingly targeting the U.S. Mail since the COVID-19 pandemic to commit check fraud.” Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods, making it crucial for organizations to stay vigilant. These fraudulent activities encompass a range of tactics, including counterfeit checks, altered payee information, and even identity theft to gain access to legitimate bank accounts. As a result, it is imperative for chapter and house corporation officers and volunteers to be aware of these risks and adopt strategies to mitigate the threat of check fraud. We recommend the following strategies:
- Secure your checks: Store your checkbook, blank checks, and deposit slips in a secure and locked location. Limit access to these items to only trusted individuals. Consider using a secure check stock with built-in security features like watermarks or microprinting.
- Try and limit exposure by reducing check use. Transitioning to electronic checks and digital payment methods reduce the risk associated with paper checks.
- Make sure you’re following internal safety measures. Chubb Insurance, the insurance company who writes your Crime Insurance Coverage, has some basic risk management rules and guidelines for the entities under your organization’s national insurance policy. These conditions are referred to as “required conditions” and list out specific requirements in the financial management to ensure that there is dual control of the financial transactions at all times. These measures help prevent check fraud, as well as other financial crimes. Read more here.
- Consider Positive Pay: Enroll in Positive Pay services offered by your bank. This service helps detect discrepancies by matching the checks presented for payment with a list of authorized checks you’ve issued. Positive pay procedures set permissions in a checking account, so the company gets confirmation before a check or ACH Debit against your company is processed. ACH: ACH stands for Automated Clearing House and is a network that transactions pass through in the United States. The network exists to manage the transfers and organize them. ACH debit is the transaction executed through the Automated Clearing House Network.
- Train employees and volunteers: Educate employees and volunteers about the risks of check fraud and teach them how to recognize signs of suspicious activity. Ensure they understand the importance of safeguarding sensitive financial information.
- Stay informed: Keep yourself informed about the latest trends in check fraud and adapt your prevention strategies accordingly. Criminals continually evolve their tactics, so staying up-to-date is essential. Count on MJ Sorority to continually monitor the trends and communicate new strategies to you.
At the beginning of each academic year, we email out a resource for chapter officers and advisors. Click here for the 2021 version.
Review and implement the following steps as needed:
- Consult an attorney to be sure your bylaws are thorough and compliant with state and federal law.
- Avoid including details that change, like fundraising or marketing guidelines.
- Be sure to tailor your bylaws to the purpose and size of your organization.
- Make certain you appropriately use the words “shall” (required) and “may” (optional).
- Review your bylaws every year to be sure they continue to be applicable and express the nonprofit’s mission. This is particularly important as a nonprofit grows and adds new programs.
- Make your bylaws available to the public to strengthen your nonprofit’s accountability with donors, supporters, and beneficiaries.