Identity Theft

Is EZ Shield Check Fraud Protection Worth It?

Comments 66 Comments

I recently reordered checks online. I confess I have no loyalty when it comes to check printers. I just look for cheap checks, and as long as the site is secure, I take whatever deal I can find.

As I completed my order, I was offered EZ Shield fraud protection as an optional add-on for $1.95 per box. The service offered to reimburse me within 72 hours – and up to $25,000 – if my checks were misused by a crook.

$1.95 isn’t a lot of money so I would imagine it is a no-brainer for some customers. But being a cheapskate, I wondered whether I should pay for it. And being a financial writer, I decided to investigate.

While I am very familiar with the rules that protect consumers if their credit or debit cards are used fraudulently, I had no idea what happens when the same thing happens with checks. As it turns out, it wasn’t as easy as I thought to track this information down. I didn’t find the usual government fact sheet explaining my rights. So I dug a little deeper.

First, though, some background: EZ Shield promises to “expedite the payment(s) owed to Customers for the Reimbursable Items on terms for which Customer would later be reimbursed by the financial institution on which the subject checks were drawn.” (In other words, they offer to speed up reimbursement on fraudulent checks financial institutions are likely to reimburse customers for anyway.)

EZ Shield features two levels of services: “Assisted,” where an adviser will walk the consumer through the steps to get reimbursed, or ”Fully Managed,” where the customer signs a limited power of attorney and other documentation including a police report and fraud form. Copies of the canceled checks may be required as well. It covers three types of check fraud:

  • Forged signatures,
  • Forged endorsements, and
  • Altered checks

I tracked down Beau J. Hurtig, an attorney with Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. in Minneapolis who has represented banks in instances involving check fraud. He explained that fraudulent checks are covered by the Uniform Commercial Code Articles 3 and 4, and many of the details focus on establishing liability among the financial institutions involved.

“Typically the real fight in these cases is between the depository bank (where the payee deposited the check) and the drawee bank (the bank of the customer who wrote the check),” said Hurtig. Unless a consumer is somehow negligent – gives checks to someone, or doesn’t check their statements within 60 days of receiving them, for example – they are usually off the hook and it’s the banks that are left to fight over who is stuck with the bad check.

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  • Robert V

    Gerri, just wanted to let you know that I was offered the same thing while finalizing my check order, and started wondering what it was all about, so I typed in the exact name of your article in google, and up you came. Thanks for taking the time to investigate and saving me time and money… and thanks for picking such an intuitive title, that it matched my search exactly.
    Kudos to you!
    Robert

  • gigi

    Gerri…great article. Thanks you for taking the time to research this issue. I fully agree with your conclusions! Have a great 2011!

  • Diana

    Thanks for this info. Its so true, if my bank doesn’t pay, EZ won’t either so why give away $1.95 per box. Thanks for the article and taking the time to investigate this issue. Hey, a dollar here and there is important to some of us.

  • http://www.credit.com Gerri

    Robert, Gigi, Diana –

    Thanks for your comments! It was a bit of a bear to research but knowing that it helped you out made it worthwhile.

    All the best to you,

    Gerri

  • Annie

    What a great article! The website I ordered checks from actually charged an additional $9.95 for EZ Sheild on an order of 2 boxes of checks. I wasn’t sure what it was, so I googled it and your article came up! THANKS for saving me $9.95!!!

    Annie

  • http://www.credit.com Gerri Detweiler

    Annie – Glad to hear it helped!

  • Susan

    I buy EZShield every time I buy my checks. You never know when you will need it. Once I had to close my account because my purse was stolen and EZShield refunded me the cost of my new check order for my new checking account. I was very surprised when I found out I didn’t have to pay $65.00 for my new checks because I spent $1.95 extra on my last check order. I’d say the extra charge at that time made it well worth it.

    • michael

      LOL you would of had to pay $65 for checks.. LOL what a joke no one will believe that. Do you work for EZshield?

  • Heather

    I ordered checks a while back and had EZShield added to the order. I didn’t really ask questions – they packaged it in the order and I agreed. I ended up having checks stolen and they were forged and cashed. I had to fill out forms at the bank and from EZShield too, but I did get a refund check from EZShield just 2 days later! So it was definately worth the $1.95 that I paid. The bank closed that account and made me open a nnew one. After I ordered new checks, EZShield refunded me for what I paid on the new order too! I was not expecting that but it was really nice considering that I had just ordered the other checks a couple months ago and had to throw them all away. When I spoke with the EZShield representative, they told me they offer Identity Restoration services too. I haven’t checked into that to compare to other companies yet, but their website is http://www.ezshield.com

  • http://www.credit.com Gerri Detweiler

    Susan and Heather – It’s good to hear both sides of the story. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for the post, Gerri. I just opened a bank account and have never ordered checks online. I was in the process of buying checks and was offered EZ Shield protection for $7.95! I googled if it was worth it and your article popped right up. Thanks for helping me make my decision not to buy it!

  • http://www.Credit.com Gerri Detweiler

    Appreciate the feedback Patrick!

  • David

    Gerri — thanks for the investigation. I appreciate the insights.

    Did your investigative bell go off for “Susan” and “Heather”? They were both positive posts and posted on the same day, 3 minutes apart. They both spelled “EZShield” the way the company spelled it and Heather was nice enough to leave the website in case someone couldn’t use google. Smells fishy … ?

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks David – you were paying more attention to that than I was!

      I would hope that anyone who works for a company and leaves a review would properly identify themselves, since that’s the ethical thing to do. But maybe I am just assuming people play by the rules.

      Wishful thinking…?

    • Kelly

      I was thinking the same thing!!! Sounds fishy! Thanks, Gerri for the article. I’ll save my few dollars per box. :-)

  • http://www.vietet.org Sean

    I too recently re-ordered checks because my last set of checks were taken when my car was broken into. As luck would have it, I had EZ Shield protection on the checks and got a refund on new checks ordered, and in those new set of checks, it included EZ Shield again. Luckily, the person who broke into my car did not use the checks, but I am glad the checks were protected regardless. The cost ( whatever it was, I don’t remember) definitely covered the $50.00 I would have spent on new checks. Thank you EZ Shield!

  • Anita

    Thanks from me, too, for giving this timely info — I was at the final point of checkout with a check order and had declined the EZ Shield but decided to quickly Google to make sure i was not making a mistake, and found your helpful info!

  • Nettie

    Thank you so much for the explanation. I clicked on the link provided by the check company but nothing came up. So when I googled EZ shield I came right to this site. Thanks for the information.

  • Josh

    Thanx for the information it was helpful.

  • EZShield

    Interesting study, Gerri, thanks for doing the due diligence.
    I work for EZShield, and here is the thing….
    You are absolutely right, that the rules that govern check fraud are articulated in the UCC, and the battle to resolve the fraud is between the two banks (depositing bank, and original bank). What is not clear here, is the time it can take for these two banks to come to a conclusion. The average is between 30-90 days. I don’t about you, but I have a family that depends on me, and if my cash was wiped out of my account…. I couldn’t wait 30-90 days for the banks to resolve it. You described it well, the service is basically expediting funds that the bank would already reimburse you for. With this service, you simply don’t have to wait 30-90 days for the bank. While this may seem silly or a waste of cash for some, people spend more money on a bad cup of coffee from Starbucks…. have you ever experienced your cash being taken?…. how long would you want to wait to get your money back? EZShield commits to you gaining your funds back within 72 hours…. I have yet to hear of a bank that will make that same commitment.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks for your perspective, and I agree that 30 – 90 would be a hardship. The experts I consulted indicated that would not be a typical situation. I would be interested in any information that can verify that the average time to be made reimbursed is 30 – 90 days.

      • Matthew

        This makes it even more clear that I will never need to buy EZ Shield again. Thank you.

  • Ivan Rosado

    hahahaaha! Thank you my friend.

  • Portia Bergman

    Gerri
    Thank you so much for taking the time to publish this article and for making my research so easy! Your article directly answered all of my questions. May you have a very blessed day.

  • Robert M. Kelly

    what a great, well-written small article. thank you Gerri!
    my experience: a NY bank took over our local branch in MA. all went smooth, except the check-switching. I was told to order checks by phone, and (you guessed it) EZ Shield was tacked onto the order. there are several issues:
    1. when it came, my order statement included something called EZ Shield Plus
    2. there was scant information about what EZ Shield was, let alone EZ Shield Plus
    3. no information about what the costs were
    4. I had authorized none of these extras when I placed the order, just my order of checks

    when I checked out the EZ Shield web site, it was even murkier exactly what I was supposed to be getting, so I called the check company and canceled both EZ Shield and EZ Shield Plus.

    while I agree that having a middleman do the work of the banks may facilitate the process, the consumer should always be well-informed about their options. in this responsibility, the EZ company falls down.

    when I called, I was told that for the first order the company had waived my fee to “join” EZ Shield, or similar, but this sounded so much like those credit card scams that “enroll” you in something if you don’t return something saying you decline that it seems just as fishy.

    also fishy was that when I made this call, I was told that they were going to now give me a credit for shipping and handling. I did not ask “why?” but again, this is fishy. it sounds too much like “charge them for it and keep charging them for it until they complain”, not exactly the most ethical or productive way to conduct business, in my opinion.

    thanks again Gerri for this enlightening discussion!

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      I really appreciate your taking the time to share your experience – very interesting.

  • Sam

    Just curious when checking out was asked about shipping….free or with tracking?? Is it bad to have checks shipped usps?? Sorry this is a side note…

    • Laura

      I was wondering the same thing Sam…

    • Kirin

      I work for a check printing company.

      The free USPS shipping is not trackable and takes up to a month to get you. So if your order got lost, we wouldn’t know for almost a month until the post office returns it to us and we destroy it. Then we remake your order for free and have to start the shipping process all over again.

      The UPS tracking makes it so you receive your checks in an average of 8 to 15 days after you place your order (that is including verification, printing, and getting it onto the truck) and also makes it so you can track your checks using the UPS/USPS Priority tracking number(s). I only say numbers because during the peak shipping times sometimes UPS gets backed up or does not deliver all the way out to the boonies of America and reverts orders to UPSI which means they go 90% of the way via UPS and are just dropped off by your regular mail man.

      Hope that helps some.

  • Erin

    Thank you for all your investigative work and for posting it online. I had no idea whether to get it or not.

  • Dana

    Just wanted to say that I was trying to check out EzShield to follow up on thier Terms and Conditions. After typing in the info both lower case and upper, I kept getting Nothing on thier “Terms and Condition” site.
    I just want to thank you for clearing up what I thought about ezshield.
    I guess they do exist after all, but are truly not worth it.

  • Mic

    Thanks for this– I’ve always skipped the EZShield when I ordered checks, but I thought I’d better double check (ha!) that I wasn’t doing myself a disservice. I appreciate you watchdogging the companies who use our fears about identity theft to promote their empty services.

  • Robert

    Thanks for the info. The company I’m using wants to charge $8.45. Felt like they were offering something already available through the banking industry practices, laws, rules, etc. Seems I was right.

  • Philip

    Thanks for sharing this information! Very helpful.

  • Vickie

    Gerri,

    I’m cheap too, so I googled the EZ shield check fraud protection and your article came up. Thanks so much for taking the time to research and post this information. With this economy consumers have to look wherever they can to pinch pennies!

  • KAREN

    THANKS FOR THIS INFORMATION. EVERY PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED.

  • Raye

    Gerri,

    Thanks! I actually just submitted my check order but after reading your article called to cancel EZShield. I usually get it because I’m cautious about fraud but seeing that it really didn’t add anything extra decided I didn’t need it. You saved me $15.80!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Glad you found the information helpful!

  • nicol

    Great article. You just saved me $15.00. Thank you for doing the research.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You’re welcome. I figured that if I wanted to know, others might too.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you! This article and your research also saved me the expense of EZ sheild. I was about to select it and then thought I wonder what this actually does? Searched and came up with your article and research and appreciate it :)
    Jennifer -

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s nice to know you found it helpful.

  • kim albright

    I, too, thank you for the information contained in your article! This saved me $$ as well! I’m now wondering if I should pay the for the UPS shipping so as to track these checks now….making sure they couldn’t possibly be stolen if shipped through the mail? Your thoughts on this?

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      That’s a great question Kim. I currently don’t, as my understanding is that the same consumer protections would apply if they were fraudulently intercepted. In other words, paying for tracking isn’t likely to help me though it would presumably help the bank if it wanted to try to track down details about the theft.

  • Yu

    Thanks a lot for the article. Answered my question when I ordered my new checks.

  • Helene

    Thanks for the article. Going rate is $2.45 per box of checks. That really adds up fast.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I didn’t realize that’s what it was up to. Thanks for the update Helene!

  • Terrie

    Thanks so much for this article. i want to share my experience with check fraud.

    I actually was a victim of check fraud. someone stole my checks and made about $300 worth of purchases on it. i contacted my bank, filed a police report, signed an affadavit with my bank stating that i didn’t make those purchases. and got my money back within the very month. so no, i don’t think we need that extra protection.

    • Michael Schreiber

      Thanks, Terrie. Would you consider sharing this in our Forum? I think the community would benefit from the story and a discussion about it… it’s here: http://forum.credit.com
      Best,
      Mike

  • Lisa

    Hi,
    Thanks so much for the information! I, too, goodled EZ Shield and found your article. The check companies must have raised their prices because they want me to pay $10.95 for EZ Shield on (2) boxes of checks! This article really helps to put it all into perspective. Kind regards, Lisa

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Thank you for telling us about the price increase! Glad you found the piece helpful.

  • Kirin

    I work for a check printing company. Probably the one you are ordering from. The only reason I was really looking for an article like this today is to see the other side of the coin.

    As for the EZShield, I am not the biggest fan of the way we go about selling it. I think it is a little misleading and isn’t exactly the best way to conduct business. I always try to give as much information as I can about it and this is what I was told by both the company I work for and an EZShield rep.

    Even if your bank says they will reimburse the money, sometimes they give you partial payments until the banks finish squabbling and sometimes they don’t return those overdraft and other fees. It all depends on the bank. We are told that EZShield gives the customer back all associated fees and pays for your new check order.

    So as an example, just today I received a phone call from a customer who had 2 boxes of checks stolen by a repairman she had let into her home. They wrote out $700 in random expenses. She paid the man with a check from that same account and had numerous other checks out for other bills. ALL of those checks bounced and incurred late fees and overdraft charges and every other fee you could imagine PLUS some of her debit card transactions bounced and she ended up with a total debt of around $2700. As a result the bank just closed her account and refunded what they could. EZShield paid the rest of the balance and wrote off what they didn’t get back from the bank off as a loss. They also paid for her checks for her new account.

    The PLUS portion of EZShield is the one I like better and is actually the only reason I even have the check fraud protection on my own checks, as you cannot have one without the other. The Plus protection is the Identity Restoration service. What is does is after identity theft occurs they assign you a counselor to go through all the paper work and trouble of getting all fraudulent accounts and purchases or any other issues taken off your credit and get you back to where you were before the identity theft occurred. It is good for 2 years and protects everyone that is listed on the checks. When you order that service with your checks you pay about $6 or $7. When you order that with EZShield , you pay upwards of $75. While I do monitor my credit like a madwoman, if something were to happen I don’t have the time or patience to go through every detail and clean it up. Plus I would still be risking missing something. Since I don’t have the money to spend on services like LifeLock or something like that every month I deemed it worth it to just pay the 11.90 on my 4 boxes of checks for that whole shebang. At least it isn’t $75…

    I hope this brought a little bit of clarification to the situation. I swear I’m not being paid to say these things. This is just my honest opinion.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks Kirin for sharing your perspective and experience. Appreciate it!

  • Nate

    Funny(not really), I completed my order for checks and the cost for EZShield was $7.95. After reading your article I clicked “NO” on the radio button for accepting the service. It immediately re-generated the order total and gave me A NEW OPTION FOR $1.95/box!

    Thus, I could have been a sucker for EITHER $7.95 OR $1.95. I clicked “NO” again and went on with the order. This is tantamount to fraud in my humble opinion! Teaches one to be careful when placing this type of order.

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      That’s a twist I hadn’t heard of!

  • Lynne

    Nate’s post is correct. You have to really pay attention at the time of check out. It automatically applied a charge of $11.90 (EZShield Identity Restoration & EZShield Check Fraud Protection Program). If I wasn’t paying attention it would have charged me. I had to click NO and then went back to finish my order and it was automatically populating charge of $4.90 for two boxes of checks EZShield Protect Program. I had to click NO again to completely have EZShield charges removed before I could complete my order.
    Thank you Gerri for taking the time to research & post this blog and to everyone else who posted their experiences as well!

  • Kevin

    Thank you very much for confirming what I’d been thinking already. I recently placed an order for new checks and wa unsure what EZShield was all about. When I typed in the website from my cheque order form it came up “site not found”. When I dug more I was able to locate them. You think they’d want to be found. Also, I tried to contact them via e-mail to inquire about the product, 2 weeks later and I’ve still no reply. Thanks Gerri for your due diligence.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Glad you found it helpful Kevin.

  • Walter

    I monitor my credit religiously, and living in a skeptical world, I understand why most people on here are leery of a company like EZ Shield. But I am confused when people say that they had trouble on the EZ Shield website, I found it with ease and found their explanation of services very clear. When I had my checks stolen, I looked them up and was able to get in contact with them within seconds. They worked with me and paid for my new set of checks and sent them to me overnight. That does not sound like a shady company to me. I dont work for them nor am saying you should go purchase their services. I just dont think they are a bad company as everyone points them out to be.

  • Regina

    I appreciate your informative article and the info from others on this thread. I don’t perceive a need for EZ Shield and I like the idea of buying a Lottery tickets with the savings!

  • Luke

    Thanks for the posting, it is the best article on the subject. Lots of people use checks. The threat of forgeries, etc is real. My real question is does it create duplicate insurance. That is, does it give you money that in a bad situation you’d get from the bank anyway. Does the service protect from real loss? Or does it just speed up what the banks are doing? Yes having your checking account screwed up is bad but the impact of forgeries can also be reduced by having multiple checking accounts.
    I looked on Lifelock to see if they cover forgery but their website didn’t say, so maybe it isn’t really a risk.

  • EBeal

    Excellent article…very user-friendly and (as they say in the writing biz) “actionable.”

    I’m ordering checks tonight, and will pay the $1.95 per box (sigh) for the covereage.

    A question: when you do need to use the EZShield option, who do you call/contact: the folks who sold you the checks (in my case, Checks Unlimited)?

    I won’t ever come back to this site, so if you could send the response to my e-dress, I’d very much appreciate it.

    Fellow Journo (health care/geri issues)

    Thanks for doing it.

  • Becky

    Great article. I was on a similar check site offering “Fraud Armor.” What I found when I read the details was that the protection only lasted a year anyway! I don’t know about other folks, but these days if I get one box of checks (for business or for home) it is going to last me 5 years. In the past, I never received any information from any of these companies to renew my protection so it seems odd to me that they are getting $2 from every box and then services don’t last for the duration that you own each box of checks. Seems to me it should be a one time charge (not by the box) for the first year. I just don’t like the way the model seems to show you will be protected by the box when that is not the case.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Good catch! Thanks for pointing that out for our readers.

  • Tiffany

    Thank you! Because my ezshield came up as 7.95. I’m using that money for expedited shipping instead.

  • CB

    Thanks for the info. I came here through a google search as well. I was offered EZShield for 4 boxes of checks for $12. I clicked no and then was offered the same protection for $6. I clicked no again and was able to place my order. Thanks for writing this!

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