In today's world, where technology has made everything easier, identity theft has become a serious concern for many people. While the use of paper checks is less common today, check fraud is on the rise.
One of the most common tactics for check fraud used by identity thieves is check washing, a low-tech but highly effective method that can cause significant damage. In this article, we're going to explore five common tactics used in check washing and how you can protect yourself from falling victim to this crime. Whether you're a business owner or an individual, it's important to be aware of these tactics and take steps to safeguard your identity.
What is check washing?
Check washing is a form of fraud where criminals alter the information on a check to make it payable to themselves. They do this by using various chemicals and solvents to remove the ink on the check, leaving the signature intact. Once the ink is removed, they can change the payee's name, the amount of the check, and even the date. This makes it easy for them to cash the check or deposit it into their own account. Check washing is a low-tech but highly effective method of identity theft that can cause significant damage to the victim's finances and reputation.
One of the reasons why check washing fraud is so effective is that it's hard to detect. The signature on the check remains intact, so the bank assumes that the check is legitimate. In many cases, the victim doesn't even realize that their check has been altered until it's too late. That's why it's important to take steps to protect yourself from check washing scams.
How does check washing happen?
Check washing can happen in a variety of ways. The most common method is for the thief to steal the victim's mail. They look for envelopes that contain checks and use various chemicals and solvents to remove the ink from the check. Once the ink is removed, they can change the information on the check to make it payable to themselves.
Another way that check washing can happen is through phishing scams. In this case, the thief sends an email or text message to the victim, pretending to be from their bank or another financial institution. The message asks the victim to click on a link and enter their login information. Once the thief has access to the victim's account, they can steal their checks and alter them to make them payable to themselves.
5 common check washing tactics
Steps to protect your identity against check washing
Get expert security advice and safeguard your business
Although individuals can implement measures to safeguard against check washing scams, it is crucial for banks and financial organizations to establish internal systems for detecting such schemes. By investing in a fraud detection solution, institutions can potentially save significant time and resources, as well as prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.