Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Author: Mechanics Bank Marketing & Communications

While cybercrime seems to get all the attention, criminals have continued to exploit more traditional payment methods, and are causing significant financial harm.

What is check fraud?

If you mailed a check that was paid/cashed, but the recipient never received it, you may be the victim of check fraud. Individuals and criminal operations are swiping checks from mailboxes or the USPS’s blue drop boxes. Once they have a check that you mailed, they use chemicals to remove the ink on all lines except the signature line (“washing” the check). This allows them to change the amount or make themselves the payee. Then, they deposit or cash your check and steal your money.

How do you protect yourself?

Follow these top 10 ways to protect yourself.   And remember, if there is unusual or suspicious activity, notify us immediately. The sooner you report it, the better chance we have to help recover your funds.  

  1. Whenever possible, switch to secure electronic payment methods (ACH, online banking bill pay).
  2. Use online and mobile banking to monitor your accounts daily/regularly – don’t wait for your monthly statement.
  3. Use text and email alerts on online and mobile banking to notify you of unusual account activity.
  4. Identify any checks “outstanding” and contact the payee to ensure they received your check (place a stop payment with the bank and reissue if needed).
  5. Review your paid check images and ensure the checks were not altered (including the back of the check where it’s endorsed).
  6. Don’t let delivered mail sit in your mailbox. Pick it up right away. Arrange for the USPS to hold mail if you’re out of town.
  7. Use security envelopes, and always take checks to be mailed into the post office – don’t use the blue drop boxes.
  8. Use a pen with black or blue non-erasable gel ink.
  9. Don’t leave blank spaces in the payee or amount lines.
  10. Don’t write personal details, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number on checks.

Vigilance and timing are vital in battling check fraud! Monitor your accounts daily/regularly, and contact us immediately if you see anything unusual. Together, we can help stop these criminals' games.

What to do if you’re a victim:

  • Contact us immediately at 800.797.6324. The sooner you report it, the better chance we have to help recover your funds.  
  • Contact your local police department
  • Contact the United States Postal Inspection Service at uspis.gov/report or call 877.876.2455
  • Consider getting identify theft protection service to ensure the criminals didn’t take more than just your checks!

Can You Spot a Scammer?

Every day, thousands of people fall for fraudulent emails, texts and calls from online scammers pretending to be banks. Some of these fakes are obvious, while others can be quite convincing. Think you can spot the scam? Test your knowledge and sharpen your skills by taking the #BanksNeverAskThat quiz, created by the American Bankers Association.