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Check Fraud is on the Rise!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023Written by: Lorie Hamlin

As EMV chip technology and real-time fraud alerts have improved for debit card transactions, criminals have unfortunately resorted to check fraud.  Mobile deposit services make check fraud even more enticing for fraudsters, as they now don’t even have to visit their bank to make their deposit and avoid the risk of physical inspection of the actual check.

MAIL THEFT and CHECK WASHING

Cartoon mailbox stuffed with mailCriminals are stealing mail from mailboxes, including U.S. Postal Service receptacles.  Checks that you have written and mailed are at risk of being stolen and “washed.”  Check washing is a process in which criminals use chemicals to erase the ink on a check, and then they “reuse” the checks by rewriting them payable to themselves.  For example, if you mail a $1,000 check for your mortgage payment, a criminal may “erase” the mortgage company name, replace it with their name, and the check will eventually clear your account while your mortgage payment remains due.  They also often increase the dollar amount of the check.  

 

KEY PREVENTION MEASURES

POSITIVE PAY

Positive Pay is a great option for business owners to protect their accounts from check fraud.  This feature provides early detection of fraudulent, altered, or counterfeit checks by comparing checks that clear your account to a list of items you provided to us through online banking.  Any exceptions are sent for your review and approval.  This enables us to quickly return fraudulent items to the Bank of First Deposit (BOFD).  Contact our Electronic Banking department at (318) 255-3733 or email them at ebankingsupport@cnext.bank for more information.

FRAUD PREVENTION GEL PENS

Most gel pens are great options to use for handwritten checks.  The ink turns to liquid when applied to the check and then turns back to a solid as it dries.  This makes the ink resistant to many of the chemicals check washers use. 

AVOID MAILING CHECKS WHEN POSSIBLE

Consider making payments securely online when possible.  Placing bills in a residential mailbox and raising the flag is an invitation for mail thieves.  If you must mail a check, consider purchasing a lockbox from the post office.

REVIEW YOUR ACCOUNT DAILY

Online banking and mobile banking provide easy access for you to view your account history.  Viewing check images is extremely important.  Remember that the check number and dollar amount may not have changed, but the payee name may have been altered.  Promptly notify us if any fraudulent items are detected.





Article by: Lorie Hamlin

Lorie Hamlin Image
Tags: Safety Tips


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