Check Fraud is on the Rise

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Security and Fraud Prevention

Despite a steep decline in the use of written checks – 82% over the last 30 years, according to the Federal Reserve – check fraud has become increasingly popular among criminals. Today, check fraud is costing banks and consumers billions in losses per year, more than twice what it was five years ago.

While United Bank & Trust implements measures to help stop check fraud, there are many additional actions consumers can take to protect themselves. Here are seven ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of check fraud.

  1. Be careful with your mail. Criminals often steal checks through the mail, either taking them directly out of your mailbox or robbing them from the blue U.S. Post Office mailboxes. If you are mailing a check, it’s best to physically take it to the post office.
  2. Check Fraud is on the RisePay bills online. Online bill pay tools make it easier than ever to send money without worrying about your paper check being stolen. Use your bank’s mobile app to set up automatic payments for your bills. This ensures you won’t miss a payment because your check was stolen in transit.
  3. Keep your checks in a secure location. Just like your personal information, it’s important to safeguard your checkbook. When you’re not using your checkbook, keep it in a secure location, such as a safe or lockbox. Keep extra boxes of checks in a secure location as well.
  4. Use black or blue gel ink. Criminals can easily wash out colored ink from stolen checks. It’s much more challenging for them to wash out black or blue gel ink because the gel permeates the pores in the check paper. Criminals can still try to wash gel ink off a check, but they won’t be able to remove the shadow from the original check, making the alteration easier to spot.
  5. Use mobile payment apps. Peer-to-peer payments apps, such as Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal, allow you to send money quickly to someone without writing a check. When using these apps, be sure to use a strong password and multi-factor authentication.
  6. Don’t become an unwitting accomplice. Be wary of “fast money” offers on social media. Some fraudsters inundate social media with offers of $200 or more simply for going into a bank and opening an account. By accepting such an offer, you make yourself an accomplice in an illegal check fraud scheme.
  7. Review your accounts frequently. Checking your accounts regularly for suspicious activity is a critical step in stopping fraudulent activity and catching criminals who commit check fraud. Report an unauthorized transaction immediately to your bank to reduce the risk of financial loss.

“Just as we at United Bank & Trust are committed to employing rigorous protocols to prevent check fraud, customers play a pivotal role in guarding their accounts,” said Jeremy Bristow, Assistant Vice President & Cashier at United Bank & Trust. “By staying informed, adopting secure banking practices, and promptly reporting any suspicious activity, customers can actively contribute to safeguarding their financial well-being.”

If you believe your United Bank & Trust accounts have been compromised, or if you have additional questions, stop in or call us at (641) 753-5900.

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