Check Fraud Is on the Rise. Here’s What You Can Do to Prevent It.
Even as fewer people use paper checks, there have been more reports of criminals stealing them from mailboxes and changing the dollar amount and name of the recipient, officials say.
In one common approach known as “check washing,” detailed in the FinCEN alert, criminals steal signed checks from postal boxes, then use common chemicals like nail polish remover to remove the dollar amount and the name of the “payee,” or recipient. Then they rewrite the checks for a new recipient and a larger sum — often hundreds or thousands of dollars more — before cashing the check.
AARP, the advocacy group for older Americans, recently warned its members about check washing. Low-income, older consumers were more likely than other groups to pay with paper checks, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta noted in 2020.