Check fraud has been on the rise in recent weeks, particularly check washing. In 2021, nearly 2.8 million reports of fraud were filed with the Federal Trade Commission, marking a record high.
Check washing is a type of check fraud that occurs when a written check has been stolen and “washed", oftentimes with common household chemicals, to remove the ink. The scammer can then change the check amount and payee. This antiquated approach to fraud has seen a resurgence recently and stands as the second most common form of consumer fraud. Check washing results in $815 million lost in the United States each year alone.
“Safety and security for our clients is imperative to our organization,” said Fairfield County Bank President, Daniel Berta. “We are doing everything within the Bank we can to protect our clients. At home, one of the best things to do is to educate yourself on the types of fraud and how to prevent it.”
There are a few steps to take in preventing check washing.
You can start by utilizing online banking and electronic forms of Bill Pay as a more secure way to pay. If writing a check cannot be avoided, it should be done using a black gel pen. The gel seeps into the fibers of a check and will ruin an attempt of washing. Any valuable mail should be taken directly inside a USPS Postal Office and handed to an employee.
Using stand-alone USPS receptable boxes should be avoided, as scammers can “fish” for mail by dropping a string with a sticky substance on the end into the receptacle and pulling back out envelopes. Do not place valuable mail in your mailbox. Never raise the red flag on the box, as this is an invitation and draws criminal attention to take your mail over other boxes where the flag is down.
Positive Pay, an automated fraud prevention system used to protect against forged, altered, and counterfeit checks, is available for businesses.
For more information and tips on preventing check washing please visit: https://fairfieldcountybank.com/security-center/.