With crimes against postal carriers, checking washing, and thefts from blue USPS mailboxes on the rise, the U.S. Postal Service recently recommended using caution when mailing checks. If you must mail a check, the postal service strongly recommends depositing your letter directly into the secure mail drop inside a post office. They do not suggest leaving mail in your personal mailbox for pickup or even using blue USPS boxes when checks are involved. At N&Co, we have heard from a handful of our clients who have been affected by check washing schemes and wanted to share these suggestions with you, so that you are better able to protect yourself and your accounts.
What is check washing? According to the US Postal Inspection Service, check washing scams involve washing stolen checks in chemicals to remove ink from the fields you filled in. The criminals then change the payee names and often the dollar amounts before fraudulently depositing them. Some scammers will even use copiers or scanners to print fake copies of a blank check.
To protect yourself when writing a check, consider using a black gel pen (like the uniball 207). A black gel pen is considered a better choice than a ballpoint pen because it contains a pigment-based ink that forms an indelible bond in paper and resists check washing. Additionally, you can ask if there are electronic payment options available to eliminate the need for mailing checks. For instance, when paying us, you are welcome to use the payment portal on the homepage of our website. Even when making tax payments, nearly every taxing entity has an electronic payment option, and the filing instructions included with your return contain details for doing this. If you ever have questions related to tax payments, you are welcome to call our office and we are happy to guide you to electronic options. We want to help make your life #LessTaxing!