When we talk about epidemics, check scams don't usually come to mind.  However, that's not the case anymore.

There's an epidemic of check fraud happening right here in New England, and most people are not aware.

So who writes checks anymore anyway?  You'd be surprised.

It's not jut the older generations getting scammed. It's all ages, whether you are writing a check or accepting a check for goods sold.

The New York Times reported that scammers will grab checks out of a mailbox, then re-write the amount and who it's paid to.  This type of fraud often goes unnoticed, but banks and other financial institutions are getting more sophisticated with hand-writing analysis programs and other red flags.

Think about it.  If two different people write on a check (the original version and then the altered version), it seems a computer should be able to flag the check-washing (as it's called).

Accepting a personal check from someone you don't know could be a scam too. It may clear in a few days, but then be rejected by your bank or credit union days after.


People don't write as many checks, but here's the answer to the question from bostonfed.org.

How has check fraud come back into vogue at a time when paying by check is less popular? The answer is opportunity. It’s a low-tech and relatively easy crime to pull off, and there is still a sizeable pool of potential victims.

Check fraud has doubled in recent years, and boston.com also refers to organized crime as a big culprit, targeting small businesses and individuals who write checks.

How far will will they go? Some thieves have keys to the blue mailboxes and steal them from the federal boxes.  As incredible as this sounds, if you are mailing a check, it's recommended to bring it to the post office directly instead of stashing it in an official blue mailbox.

You can pay bills electronically to avoid this type of fraud, but if you must use a check, be aware of where you mail it.

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