Protect Yourself from Rising Check Fraud Rates
If you’re still paying for things by check now and then, you’re not alone. Paper checks are used much less frequently than a decade ago, but they are most definitely still a thing.
And just like any form of payment, there are risks with the benefits. In this case, the risks have recently gone up, and it’s not just older folks being targeted. According to Yahoo Finance:
- Over half of Americans wrote a paper check last year.
- About 25 percent of folks 50 and older write at least one a month.
- Young people still write checks, just less frequently.
- Over a quarter of 10-24-year-olds wrote a check every month last year.
While much of financial fraud takes place online, a lot still happens the old fashioned way – through our postal system. Thieves have been known to steal mail as well as keys that give them access to mailboxes. Once they get a hold of personal checks, they use that information to access peoples’ financial accounts and deposit funds into fraudulent accounts in their names.
Why Are People Worried About Check Fraud?
Paper checks may not be as common as mobile payment apps, but it is nevertheless wise to protect yourself from fraud when sending a paper check to your favorite charity (or less favorite bill collector). The Wall Street Journal reports that there were 680,000 official reports of check fraud in 2022, nearly twice the number from the previous year.
One other thing that could cause concern: checks tend to be written for amounts of $500 or more, says the Washington Post. So, even though their use has taken a dive in recent years, that’s a lot of money for anyone to lose, especially someone living paycheck to paycheck.
Technology has added to the problem by giving grifters more means of copying individuals’ financial information to produce and use realistic imitations of checks as well as identities, both in person and online.
Why Are Personal Checks Vulnerable to Fraud and Theft?
Leaving your checkbook out in the open is like leaving any sensitive financial information lying around. Once that information is stolen, it can be used to create fake accounts under the radar. Since they move through the mail, often in envelopes that are recognizable and easy to target, they are exposed to abuse by people looking for them.
How to Prevent Check Fraud
There is some positive news. There are several steps you can take to prevent check fraud:
- Store your checkbook in a concealed location.
- Avoid making checks out to cash.
- Hand them to someone you know, in person when possible.
- Always read your account statements.
- Write fewer checks to cut down on your exposure.
- Limit their use to familiar recipients and organizations.
- Be vigilant on and around holidays, when instances of fraud may spike.
- Be sure to complete the check in its entirety, even the memo line, says the Wall Street Journal.
So go ahead and use the payment method that matches your preferences. If you’ve avoided payment apps and want to try them out, start small. Open a Zelle or Venmo account to get a feel for how it works.
Like with any other payment form, it’s ok to continue writing checks. Since fraudsters often target checks written in smaller amounts, it’s important to keep an eye out for anything off with your accounts. See if there are any other steps you can take from the list above to mitigate some of the risks associated with them.
Types of Checks to Cash – Safely – at Currency Exchanges (CCEAs) in Illinois and Midwest
When you handle your day-to-day auto and financial tasks at Currency Exchanges throughout Illinois and other parts of the Midwest, you can rest assured our services are safe and trusted. That’s why check cashing is one of our most popular services! Take a look at all the different types of checks people bring in through our doors to cash on the spot:
- Tax Refund
- Personal Check
- Cashiers Check
- Money Order
Check out Community Currency Exchange (CCEA) online to discover the many other ways we make handling personal finances easy. Next time you have a check to cash, just bring it to the closest CCEA location to get your money ASAP. Call first for store hours, ID requirements and other details.
With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.