JACKSON, Miss. (6/12/08)--Seeing a rise in the amount of counterfeit checks in the past six months, Mississippi FCU has decided to implement a new hold policy on all checks that come through the credit union. “We initiated a hold on checks for a longer period of time,” Marilyn Hobson, president, Mississippi FCU, told News Now. “We use our discretion when doing this. It is based on the history of the member.” If a check or circumstance seems suspicious in any way, the credit union will hold a local check for seven days, a non-local check for 11 days--up from the previous hold policy of five days for a local check and seven days for a non-local check. “For example, if someone has an average daily balance of $3.52 for the past year and then brings in a check for $5,200, we’ll put a hold on it,” Hobson said. “Also if a check is for $2,500 or more, we’ll call the financial institution it is drawn on. Not in front of the member, but later on. “We know our members pretty well, so we’re not above saying to them, ‘tell me about this check’ if it seems suspicious. We just try to use a lot of common sense,” she added. Mississippi FCU also goes online daily through a process called “in-view” to see returned check images, instead of waiting three more days to see them in the mail. “It’s wonderful,” Hobson said. The credit union also uses a machine called a “money checker” that employs a light to view the watermark on checks to look for counterfeits, and magnetic strips on bills to check for counterfeit money. “It’s inexpensive, and we use it a good bit,” Hobson said. One of the more prevalent scams in her area involves people receiving letters asking them to be secret shoppers at various stores, Hobson added. The solicitor promises participants money for this, and sends them a check for $4,500. Then the solicitor asks them to send a money order for $3,000 and tells them to keep the $1,500 balance as payment for their efforts. The problem is that the $4,500 check is fraudulent and the participant is out $3,000, Hobson said.