How to Protect Your Mail and Checks from Fraudsters

2024 Check Washing and Check Theft Scams Infographic_v3Fraudsters are rapidly turning to “snail mail” for their latest scams. Since the pandemic, check fraud has increased nationwide by 385%, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Check fraud schemes commonly target the U.S. mail to steal checks, alter or wash them to change the payee and dollar amount, and ultimately steal money from victims’ accounts, according to the American Bankers Association.

To combat check washing and protect your mail and checks, you can take the following actions:

  • Get your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.
  • If you’re heading out of town, ask the post office to hold your mail until you return.
  • Sign up for informed delivery at It sends you daily email notifications of incoming mail and packages.
  • Contact the sender if you don’t receive mail that you’re expecting.
  • Consider buying security envelopes to conceal the contents of your mail.
  • Use the letter slots inside your Post Office to send mail.

To protect your checks, bank customers can:

  • Use pens with indelible black ink so it is more difficult for a criminal to wash your checks.
  • Don’t leave blank spaces in the payee or amount lines.
  • Don’t write personal details, such as your Social Security number, credit card information, driver’s license number or phone number on checks.
  • Use mobile or online banking to access copies of your checks and ensure they are not altered. While logged in, review your bank activity and statements for errors.
  • If your bank provides an image of a paid check, review the back of the check to ensure the indorsement information is correct and matches the intended payee, since criminals will sometimes deposit your check unaltered.
  • Consider using e-check, ACH automatic payments and other electronic and/or mobile payments.
  • Follow up with payees to make sure that they received your check.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of check fraud, you should file a report immediately with:

  • Your bank and request copies of all fraudulent checks.
  • Local police department.
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service at or call 1-877-876-2455.