Protect Yourself From Stolen Mailed Check Washers

Posted on Jan 14, 2023

I rarely use checks anymore. Maybe for an occasional lawn guy or odd bill in the mail. But a friend of mine was just hit for almost $5K by check washing thieves. Mailed check theft is on the rise as the economy continues to collapse. Thieves drive around looking for mailboxes with a red flag up. This is their open invitation that your check or several checks may be in that mailbox.

Once stolen the check thieves use alcohol or nail polish remover to wash the ink off the check. Then they write a new check to themselves or a fence account. I don’t understand how they deposit large checks without scrutiny. I understand they mess up more checks than they can rewrite from the check washing bath process. If the check is large enough they may use a Q tip and try to wash individual letters off the check. Once a check is too damaged it’s useless.

Banks are not very helpful and discourage police involvement. Police involvement goes like this. “Do you have cameras and a picture of the thief? Okay, we will do our best to find them.” The bank will eventually give the money back because proper ID wasn’t presented and the check will be back-charged to someone else.

Handing out your check routing and account number is getting almost as dangerous as giving out your charge card number and valid thru date. Any thief can enter that data for online shopping just like a charge card. As a result I predict checks will become obsolete in the next few years.

The steps below will only protect you from low-level street punk thieves where your check will be floating around. Probably a drug addict. Anyone with a good image editor can make a perfect replica of your check and signature in less than a minute.

Your best protection from check washing thieves:

– Don’t use checks. Pay online if possible on a secure encrypted site.

– set up a WiFi camera to watch your mailbox 24/7 for suspicious activity. Mark your mailbox as video surveilled.

– Never use cheap blue or black ink click-pens or roller ball pens to write checks.

– If you have to mail personal checks use a Pilot G-2 07 in black ink for the dollar amount and Paid To line. Black gel ink becomes part of the paper and will not wash off.  Sign your checks using a cheesy ballpoint pen so it fades away easily when tampered with. They lose the valuable signature and keep the Paid To and amount in black Gel ink. Your check will end up useless.

– Never leave a mailbox full of checks overnight with a flag up on the box.

– If you have to mail checks take them to the Post Office or PO Box nearby.

– If you have to use a mailbox, limit the time the check is in the box before the mail person picks up.

– Don’t use the mailbox red flag. The mail person should be smart enough to recognize a piece of stamped mail.

– Your mail person may be the thief. Video surveillance may discourage them from stealing your check if they could be the last person seen with your check.

This Pilot G-2 07 is the same pen you can buy for $1.50 at any store. Below see the Pilot G-2 07 $1.50 pen being marketed on Amazon as a Fraud Prevention Ink Pen for $6 each. The 20 pack pictured above is only $29.99.


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