If you are mailing off checks to pay bills or even to send to friends/family, you might want to rethink doing that according to new warnings.

We live in a world now where you can practically do anything with the touch of a button on your phone.  However, there are still some folks who like to do things the "old school" way. Case in point. Nowadays, when it comes to paying bills, you can have things scheduled to auto-pay or you can get on your phone and pay a bill with your card. That's how the majority of people do things in 2024. There are still some out there who prefer to mail checks to businesses because that's the way they have always done it and it's just easier for them. That being said, if you are one of those people who find yourself mailing checks off, you might be a little hesitant to do so after reading this.

Don't Send Checks Through the Mail

Indiana residents are being warned to stop mailing checks, and the warnings are coming from multiple agencies and services. The first of which is the United States Postal Inspection Service. They are warning of a thing called "check washing." Here's how it works:

  • You put a letter with a check inside of it in the mailbox.
  • Thieves will then intercept the letter with a check either out of your mailbox or a drop box.
  • The payee is "washed" off the check and another name is put in its place
  • The amount is often changed, too, and then it's deposited into the thieves' account

So not only does your check not go to where it's supposed to, and you will be behind on bills, but someone else is stealing your money...and who knows how much they will take. The United States Postal Inspection Service estimates over a billion dollars is stolen from residents every single year. That's quite the problem.

Another agency that is warning Indiana residents about check washing is the Better Business Bureau. They also warn that even if no one cashes your check, you are at a much higher risk of identity theft once it's found its way into scammers' hands. So, what can you do to avoid check washing? Here's what the Better Business Bureau advises:

  • Don't mail checks if at all possible
  • Pay for services through secure online and trusted portals
  • If you have no option to pay online and must mail a check, do not put it in your mailbox with the flag up
  • Walk a letter with check into a postal service lobby and mail it directly through the deposit slot in the post office
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