Skip to main content

Criminals Are Cashing in on Check Fraud: What You Need to Know

Do you typically send checks through the mail? If so, now's a good time to switch to a more secure method.

Mail theft-related check fraud is on the rise, with financial institutions reporting an 84 percent increase in check fraud in 2022 from 2021, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

How Are Scammers Targeting the Mail?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals have ramped up their efforts to target postal boxes, personal mailboxes and even mail carriers to commit check fraud.

Using creative methods such as glue traps or “fishing" with string and double-sided tape, scammers can steal personal checks, business checks, tax refund checks and checks related to government assistance programs straight from the mail.

What Can Scammers Do with a Stolen Check?

With stolen checks in hand, scammers get to work carefully washing off the ink using household cleaning products. Once the check is “clean," the scammer can write a new name on the check and change the value — usually by hundreds or thousands of dollars — before trying to cash the check.

Some scammers even use the stolen checks to create counterfeit checks as well.

​If you fall victim to this scam, your account could be drained quickly. Not to mention, scammers may go on to use or sell your stolen personal information to commit identity theft.

How Can You Protect Your​self?

Check fraud is becoming common, but there are practical ways to avoid becoming a victim:

#1: Avoid mailing checks whenever possible.

If you need to mail a check, drop it directly in the mail collection bin inside the post office lobby rather than using your personal mailbox or leaving it in a blue USPS box.

#2: Set up Online and Mobile Bill Pay.

For even more security, consider switching from paper checks to electronic payments.

Wright-Patt Credit Union's Online and Mobile Bill Pay is a simple, secure, and time-saving way to pay your recurring bills. Just set up your payees and schedule one-time or recurring payments.

#3: Keep a close eye on your accounts.

Fraud can happen to anyone, and financial institutions like Wright-Patt Credit Union have fraud protections in place to protect our members. However, the best thing you can do is to catch the signs of fraud early and act quickly.

Check your accounts daily and report any unusual or unexpected withdrawals immediately. The sooner you do, the sooner your financial institution can help you secure your accounts and resolve the issue.

What to Do If You're a Victim of Check Fraud

If you believe your check was stolen in the mail, contact your financial institution right away, and file a report with the Postal Inspection Service as well as your local police department.

Stay Safe and Protect Yourself from Fraud

Wright-Patt Credit Union is looking out for you with information on the latest scams, cybersecurity tips and resources to help you keep your money and identity safe. Visit our Fraud Education and Awareness page to learn more today.​