Every New Yorker Should Know: What is Check Washing?
Do you write checks anymore? Very few people seem to write them anymore. Maybe you have one bill a year that cannot be paid online, or you keep a check in your wallet, just in case you are in a situation where if you paid by debit or with credit card will be charging you a tremendous amount more.
In the times of scammers everywhere there is a scam that you need to know about if you ever write or mail checks, it is horrific theft of your information and ultimately your money.
What is check washing? I don't know if the scammers are getting more creative or I am just getting more naive. The scammers get access to your check, usually, they steal it out of your mailbox. Then they use a chemical to wash important information off your check, like who it is supposed to be paid to, and the amount that you are paying someone.
They then take the check, with your real signature and add their name and a new amount to be paid, then they cash it.
How can you keep this check washing from happening to you?
How can you keep this from happening to you? You might not be able to keep it from happening, but you can help to minimize it happening to you. Here are a few ways to reduce the likelihood of it happening:
- Pay your bills online when it is possible.
- If you are mailing your bill, walk it into the lobby of the post office, so it gets in the hands of the USPS as soon as possible.
- Avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight.
Lastly, if you do write checks, you should also use online banking to double-check the check when it comes back to the bank canceled. Look at the check online, is that the person you wrote it to? Is that the correct amount that you originally made the check out for?