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  • Writer's pictureJaime Pennington

Beware of Check Washing: Protect Yourself from This Sneaky Scam

Updated: Mar 5

In today's digital age, you might think that paper checks are a thing of the past. But don't be fooled! Check washing, a form of financial fraud, is still a very real threat. In fact, it's becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it more important than ever to be aware of the dangers and how to protect yourself.


What is Check Washing?

Check washing is the illegal process of altering a check to steal money. According to this property management company, thieves typically use chemicals to erase the original payee and amount, then rewrite the check with their own information and a higher amount. They may also steal checks directly from mailboxes or intercept them in transit.


How Does Check Washing Work?

There are several ways thieves can wash a check. Here are the most common:

Bank Check
  • Chemical washing: Thieves use a special chemical to remove the ink from the check, then rewrite the information.

  • Mechanical washing: Thieves use sandpaper or other abrasives to remove the ink.

  • Bleaching: Thieves use bleach to remove the ink.

Once the check has been washed, the thieves will deposit it into their own account or cash it at a check-cashing store.


The Signs of a Washed Check

It can be difficult to spot a washed check, but there are a few red flags to look out for:

  • Discoloration or fading of the ink: If the ink on the check looks faded or discolored, it could be a sign that it has been washed.

  • Unevenness of the paper: If the paper around the writing looks uneven or bumpy, it could be a sign that the ink has been removed and rewritten.

  • Typos or errors: If there are typos or errors in the writing on the check, it could be a sign that it has been tampered with.


How to Protect Yourself from Check Washing

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from check washing:

  • Use gel pens: Gel pens are more difficult to erase than ballpoint pens.

  • Avoid using pre-printed checks: Thieves can more easily wash pre-printed checks.

  • Order your checks directly from your bank: This will help to ensure that your checks are not intercepted in the mail.

  • Shred old checks: Don't just throw away old checks. Shred them to prevent them from being stolen.

  • Monitor your bank statements: Be sure to review your bank statements regularly for any unauthorized transactions.


If You Think You've Been a Victim of Check Washing

If you think you've been a victim of check washing, contact your bank immediately. They will be able to cancel the check and investigate the matter further. You should also file a police report.


Check washing is a serious crime, but you can take steps to protect yourself. By being aware of the dangers and taking precautions, you can help to keep your money safe.

In addition to the tips above, here are a few other things you can do to protect yourself from check washing:

  • Don't send checks through the mail if you can avoid it. Pay your bills online or in person if possible.

  • If you must send a check through the mail, use a secure mailbox.

  • Consider using a check-cashing service that has a good reputation.

  • Be careful about who you give your checking account information to.


By following these tips, you can help to keep your money safe from check washing.

I hope this blog post has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.


Thank you for reading!

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