Did your check go missing? Here's how to protect your money as reports of mail thefts rise

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Tips on how to protect yourself against risks of check fraud
Check washing scams are becoming more common as mail thefts are on the rise in the Houston area. Here's what to do if a check goes missing.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Running a small business is difficult on its own, but when thieves strike, it can quickly become close to impossible.

Multiple business owners in northwest Houston say their checks are being stolen at their local post office.

The thieves are doing something called "check washing," which means changing the names on the checks and then depositing them for cash.

"The hardship of a small business these days is enough on itself, and then to have this issue come along is an added stress that you don't want to endure," Connie White said. "You trust that the post office will do their job and the bank is going to do their job to protect you, and it's not being done evidentially."

SEE MORE: Criminal busted with 73 pieces of stolen mail and counterfeit USPS master key, court documents say

"You've got people who are paying you, but you're not receiving them," Orlando Cardenas said. "So it's kind of hard to float all of that."

If a check goes missing, report it to the police, the post office, and then your bank. You can request fraud monitoring so that you can get a call before future checks are deposited.

According to Bank of America, here are some things you can do to help protect against the risks of check fraud:

  • Discover additional ways you can pay or send money using our digital payment methods, such as Bill Pay or Zelle.
  • Turn on transaction alerts to keep track of the amount of money that is coming out of your account. Double-check to make sure that check amounts match what comes out of your account.
  • Shred canceled paper checks and checks you have deposited via our Mobile Banking app. Retain the item in a safe and secure environment for one week from the date of the deposit acknowledgment.
  • Set up direct deposit or deposit checks using our Mobile Banking app.
  • Send checks through certified mail (particularly high-value checks), a secured mailbox, or directly within the post office. Make sure you confirm receipt with the intended check recipient.
  • Review your deposit account activity and bank statements frequently and notify us immediately if you spot any unusual activity. Refer to the Deposit Agreement for more information on timeframes to report fraud.
  • Treat your checkbooks like cash, and always store them in a safe place.

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SEE MORE: 13 Investigates: Houston No. 1 in stolen checks resold on dark web, research shows

13 Investigates found Houston is a hot spot for criminals stealing mail and selling stolen checks on the dark web or online messaging apps.