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  • Writer's picturejudithmoman

What Is Check Washing?

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

An illustrated checkbook

Check washing?? YIKES!

What Is Check Washing?

Check washing is a type of fraud in which criminals change the original information on a legitimate check to get unauthorized access to your funds.

How to Prevent Check Washing

Below are some tips to protect yourself from check washing:

Tip 1

Contact your bank about whether they offer Positive Pay, a fraud-prevention service commonly offered to bank customers. You provide the bank with a list of checks that have been approved for deposit. If a check is presented that doesn’t match the information on your approved list, the bank notifies you and withholds payment until you instruct them to either accept or reject the check.

Some banks offer the service for free, while others charge. Positive Pay also protects against duplicate deposits if a check is lost or someone attempts to deposit a check multiple times. Remember that stop-payment orders typically expire after six to twelve months, depending on the institution, although they can usually be extended by request.

Tip 2

Write checks using black gel ink. It’s more difficult to remove this type of ink if the criminal is attempting to use a check-washing chemical. Here is an article discussing the Better Business Bureau’s suggested use of these types of pens.

Tip 3

Verify the client or third party’s mailing address before sending them a check. Many people move or change their mailing address but don’t think to notify their attorney, especially if their representation has been lengthy.

Tip 4

Deposit outgoing mail in the blue collection boxes at your office or inside the local post office by putting it in the lobby mail slot or handing it to a mail employee before the office closes.

Tip 5

Never leave mail in mailbox overnight.

Tip 6

If using mobile deposit, immediately and properly dispose of the check after deposit, such as by shredding.

Thanks to Oregon PLF for the great article!

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