How to Educate Your Print Customers on Security Features
Technology is always developing. One of the biggest innovations in recent years is the continued ease of paying for things electronically. First the credit card, then PayPal, leading to smartphone payments and instant transfers on apps like Venmo.
Because of this, it’s logical to think the demand for security print products, such as checks, would be low to match the declining usage, but Tommy Gillis, managing member of CFC Print & Mail, Grand Prairie, Texas, says that’s not necessarily the case. There are benefits to paper checks that some people might not realize.
“Check usage, in general, is in decline — more so personal checks than business checks,” Gillis admits. “Electronic payments have caused the degradation of the check usage to continue. However, businesses continue to enjoy the ‘float’ when writing or utilizing a paper check — meaning, the money stays in the business owner’s account longer.”
Aside from buying yourself a little time before a payment goes through, there are tons of uses for modern security printing. For starters, just like technology has continued to evolve at a breakneck pace, scammers are always finding new ways to defraud people and businesses.
So, printers need to keep up and incorporate printing methods that protect business owners and private citizens.
Gillis says check washing is still one of the most prevalent methods of fraud. That’s when someone scans a document to ensure signature integrity, and then washes the printed item with household cleaning products, including benzine, paint thinner or alcohol. From there, it’s reimaged through a laser printer with a new “pay to the order of,” check amount, and signature.
“CFC utilizes a security paper (Pixelle Defensa Basic) as its baseline house sheet,” Gillis says. “The Defensa Basic product is UV Dull — 84 bright, which causes invisible fibers to pop more vividly under a blacklight. And the sheet also contains a chemical-reactive feature that will cause multicolor specs to appear on the sheet when chemically altered.”
That said, companies like CFC must adapt to new techniques of fraud, especially as smartphone technology becomes more sophisticated. Namely, the commonality of mobile check deposits presents a never-before-seen challenge.
“The issue now is that if the document is fraudulently altered and deposited via a smartphone, the chemical reactive feature is deemed useless,” Gillis warns. “The most secure method by which to protect against check fraud is by utilizing banks’ positive pay feature. An added cost, but worth it, neutralizing fear of being affected by fraud.”
Positive pay is a security feature that matches the financial institution’s customer’s check number, dollar amount, and account number against a presented list to stop fraud or altered checks. But, we’ll get into that later.
Additionally, Gillis recommends other security printing methods to help financial institutions avoid fraud, proving that even when technology can complement print security, there will always be a need for added security on paper as long as paper checks are still used.
“We usually recommend basic overt security features, such as warning borders, microprint borders, void pantographs that void when scanned or copied, chemical wash backer — open padlock that indicates if chemical alteration has occurred, and holograms,” he says. “CFC exclusively offers signature line verification — digital micro-validation (DMV) — by which the consecutive number of the document is step-and-repeated in the signature line, then actuates from check to check. This feature authenticates the validity of the document. All of this used with covert paper-based security can derail fraud attempts.”
Make It Known
When you’re working with a client who uses paper checks, be it a business, financial institution, school, or anything really, how do you communicate just how important these security features are, and how their print products should use them? Gillis says the best way to add these features to a sale is to first educate the client on the non-cost security.
“The basics are usually enough,” he says. “But, value-add upselling adds margin [and] increases security. Upgrades that add costs and add layers of security — example: void pantograph, level 2 or level 3 security paper that is watermarked — are often attractive alternatives to present to end-user customers.”
It’s comparable to upselling any other promotional product. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm the customer, or go for too high of an upgrade right away. Ease them in and offer something that makes them understand why it’s beneficial.
Another common mistake print distributors might make when they’re selling security printed products or adding security features to an order is to ignore technology entirely. It would be extremely unwise to shun modern technology in an attempt to boost your own print. Just like you should educate your clients on the ways security features can protect their print products, you can also add value as a trusted partner by explaining to them how technology programs can supplement print.
“You can have all of the security features you could imagine on a printed document, [but] there are still thieves that will make an attempt to alter a check,” Gillis says. “The only foolproof way to protect yourself [and] your company is to add positive pay to your account. This feature forces matches of payor and amounts to the actual presented document. If any information does not exactly match, the check is returned to its depositor and the problem becomes theirs!”
This is the state of the modern print industry: Things are changing, and some products will fall out of favor with end-buyers. However, there are usually ways that print products can work alongside technology. Some products have no technological
substitute, no matter how much we depend on our smartphones in everyday life.
If you can teach your customers about how your print products can help them, that’s one thing. But if they remember you as a trusted adviser who has their best interest at heart, even when it doesn’t boost your own bank account, they’ll come back to you for repeat orders down the line.