Fraud Education – Check Fraud

According to the American Bankers Association, the number of check fraud filings in 2023 has skyrocketed, doubling since 2020. Check fraud is a criminal act that involves using a check without authorization or altering a legitimate check to steal money from an individual or business.

Check fraud can take many forms. Some of the most common methods are:

  • Counterfeit checks
  • Stolen checks
  • Altered checks

Recently, there has been a surge in mailbox thefts observed by law enforcement and financial investigators. This involves criminals stealing bill payment checks from mailboxes, often after the mailbox’s red flag has been raised. Criminals are also stealing mail out of blue post office receptacles that may include checks. These forms of theft constitute a type of identity fraud. In these instances, criminals steal signed checks and alter the dollar amount and the name of the recipient. Then, they rewrite the checks to a new recipient and add in a larger sum before trying to cash the check. 

Check fraud is something individuals as well as businesses are vulnerable to. In many cases, it becomes more of an organized crime effort where criminals are trying to use the checks to withdraw significant amounts of money.

How can you avoid being a victim of a check scam? Consider the following:

  • Keep an eye on your spending habits.
  • Check your online payments.
  • Double-check your statements.
  • If you find any fraudulent or suspicious transactions, report them to your bank immediately.
  • If you need to send a check, take it directly to the inside of the post office.
  • Use online bill payments whenever possible.
  • If you ever lose a check in the mail, you may want to consider closing the account and opening a new one.

First Mid can assist commercial clients with a variety of business fraud protection services. Even with these services, it is advisable for businesses to implement additional procedures such as reviewing checks exceeding a specific dollar amount to ensure their authenticity and guard against potential fraud. 

Working closely with local state and federal law enforcement agencies and other check fraud experts helps First Mid stay aware of what current scams are out there. Our team of dedicated fraud analysts monitor any sort of suspicious behavior and different types of fraud on our customers’ accounts. To learn more about different types of fraud and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim, go to the Fraud section of our website here.

If you suspect a check to be fraudulent, discuss your options with your bank. Visit the FTC website here for more information, including how to report a fraudulent check scam.