It is best to verify that the check you have received is genuine if you have any doubts. The U.S. Department of the Treasury prints checks for 85 percent of all payments from the federal government, including checks from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In addition to the obvious images on U.S. Treasury checks, such as the Statue of Liberty on the left side, there are hidden features that you can use to ensure that the check is from the SSA. This will help prevent you from attempting to cash a fraudulent check.
Test the U.S. Treasury seal at the upper left corner of the check. According to the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS), the seal turns red when you apply moisture to it. It is only necessary to touch the seal with a fingertip that is slightly moist.
Hold the check up to light and look for the watermarks. “U.S. Treasury” should appear on both the front and back of the check. The watermarks should not be visible unless you hold the check up to a light.
Use a magnifying glass to look for microprinted words on the check. What may appear to be an endorsement line at the back of the check is actually “USA” printed several times. The FMS says this will appear as a solid line or a series of dots on counterfeit checks.
Pass a black light over the check to reveal the ultraviolet overprinting. You will see “FMS” on four lines, an FMS seal on the left of these lines and a United States seal on the right. It is not possible to copy this overprinting onto counterfeit checks.
Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.