Apparently someone stole a check of ours on its way to the Staedtler Company, a supplier of rulers and technical supplies. Big deal. Well, it’s turning into a big deal and could have been a business disaster, except we were lucky. Here is a story of how we’re changing our business to protect ourselves in hard times. You might consider how you can protect yourself.

The depression is affecting all banks, even the strong ones. One effect we discovered is the rising tide of fraud. Our one missing check has turned up in three separate frauds and a lot of people are getting hurt.

That missing Staedtler check for 8 thousand dollars was washed. Staedtler’s name came off and a thief deposited the check in a Chase bank. The bank suspected foul play and Chase and our bank T.D. Bank North caught the fraud, but that was only the first.

The thieves sold or gave our routing number to counterfeiters who manufactured checks with a new name, but with our routing number. They sent these checks to people as prizes for winning a make believe contest.

The plan was for the “winners” to deposit the check (our check) into their bank accounts and mail the thief a few hundred of their money to get the second half of their award. For some reason the new checks kept our Portland address and two “winners” found us. We closed the account and so far Artist and Craftsman have lost no money, but I imagine some “winners” are “losers”.

Last night my comptroller called me to announce bogus credit card charges were appearing on our closed account. This morning lots of restaurants and merchants are victims of chargeback’s. The third fraud was against these merchants.

Here is our response.

We will have three bank accounts. The first will be our checking account that will issue checks. After each check run we will deposit in that account enough money to cover the checks, but little more.

The second bank account will be our savings account where we will have our assets. Our line of credit will be attached but our savings account will have no outside contact. Routing from the savings to the checking account will be internal and secure.

A third bank account will be our receiving account where credit card and store deposits will be received. Money from this account will be transferred to the savings account periodically.

To lessen the danger of checks being intercepted in the mail, checks will no longer mail in check like envelopes. Electronic transfer of funds will be preferred and we have signed up for bank monitoring programs which allows us to spot fraud the same day, not at the end of the month as is the case today.

So I welcome you to the future.