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What steps can I take to reduce the risk of being a victim of check washing?

You can:

  • Drop mail inside of the post office instead of a mailbox.
  • Follow up with the payee to confirm that they received your check.
  • Join identity theft protection services.
  • Make payments online using other means, such as e-check or mobile payments.
  • Regularly check your mail. Avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight.
  • Frequently review copies of checks, front and back, via online banking to ensure that the checks were not altered.
  • Review your monthly bank statements for errors. Report errors in a timely manner. Review your account agreement or ask your bank to determine the time limits for reporting payment errors and check fraud.
  • Shred checks if you receive paid checks from the bank,or secure them in a locked space. Never throw them in the trash.
  • Use black gel pens to write checks to prevent certain types of check washing. Note this will not prevent all types of check fraud.
  • Pick up new check orders at the bank rather than having them shipped to your residence.
  • Print, rather than sign, your return name and address on your envelopes as your signature can be traced or duplicated.

Last Reviewed: April 2024

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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