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Westpac Makes Sure Kiwis Understand Cheque Safety

20 December 2006

Westpac Makes Sure Kiwis Understand Cheque Safety

At a time when the chequebook is most in use, Westpac is reminding customers to be careful when writing cheques.

With more than 185 million cheque payments made in New Zealand in 2005, the chequebook is a major part of our payment system. However filling in a cheque incorrectly can be an expensive and time-consuming mistake.

"Cheques are still a popular form of payment for many Kiwis however those using them need to make sure they follow a few simple steps to ensure they are writing their cheques out correctly and safely," says Kevin Carroll Westpac's Manager Fraud, Fraud and Security Services

One of the most common mistakes made by people who use cheques is neglecting to make the correct crossing and words on their cheques to safeguard their money and to make sure their payment is made to the intended recipient.

"I can't emphasise enough that you should always create two vertical lines with the term 'Not Transferable' in between and cross out the 'or bearer' phrase - otherwise the cheque is effectively still open and can be paid to anyone," says Mr Carroll.

In March next year Westpac is making a further move to safeguard cheque users by producing moving to a chequebook with pre-crossed cheques that no longer say 'or bearer' by as a default option for all customers, currently these books are available on request.

"We have always made chequebooks with 'Not Transferable' pre-printed on the cheques available to our customers by request, however we have decided to make these come as standard with the added safety benefit of having the 'or bearer' phrase removed," says Mr Carroll.

When used correctly cheques will continue to be a safe and convenient payment method for all personal and business banking users.

Westpac's top tips for cheque safety:

- You must cross the cheque by placing two vertical parallel lines through the centre of the cheque and write the words 'Not Transferable' between them. The vertical lines should not extend lower than the line for your signature
- You must cross out the words 'or bearer'
- Clearly write the name of the person or company you wish to pay
- Write the amount of the cheque in words and figures leaving no gaps between the words or the figures
- Always keep your chequebook in a secure place - treat it like you would cash
- Let your bank know immediately if a chequebook or cheque form has been lost or stolen
- Sign cheques only when you use one - never sign a blank cheque
- Make sure your bank is kept up-to-date with your latest contact information so they can contact you to verify any transactions they deem to be suspect or fraudulent.

ENDS

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