In an age where digital transactions are becoming the norm, traditional methods of banking, like paper checks, still play a significant role for many individuals and businesses. However, paper checks come with their own set of vulnerabilities, particularly in terms of fraud. From check alteration to counterfeiting, the risks associated with paper checks can lead to tremendous financial loss.

Although check fraud has been a longstanding issue, there has been a significant increase in such incidents in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in 2022 banks issued approximately 680,000 reports of check fraud, nearly doubling the previous year’s figure.

How Scammers Commit Paper Check Fraud

Scammers use numerous different tactics to commit paper check fraud. One common method is check alterations, where criminals intercept an actual check – often by stealing it from a residential mailbox – and then use chemicals or other means to change the payee’s name or the amount written on the check. This allows criminals to cash the check for a higher amount or make it payable to themselves. Another technique is check counterfeiting, where criminals create fake checks using advanced printing technology and stolen bank information. With the ability to replicate bank logos and fonts, these counterfeit checks can appear authentic. These schemes can lead to an enormous amount of financial loss for individuals and businesses, as well as damage their reputations. It’s crucial for individuals and businesses to stay aware and implement protective measures to prevent falling victim to such scams.

Ways You Can Protect Yourself from Becoming a Victim of Check Fraud

While the idea of falling victim to a check fraud crime is daunting, there are effective strategies you can use to protect yourself. Here are some key practices to keep in mind to safeguard yourself or a loved one against check fraud:

  • Pay Digitally – Utilize card or digital payment options to reduce the number of checks you write.
  • Use Mailboxes that are secure – Sending checks from a secure mailbox reduces the risk of theft. If you have to send checks by mail, opt for a mailbox inside a USPS facility and avoid using curbside mailboxes for residential outgoing mail, which are more vulnerable to theft.
  • Monitor Bank Statements Regularly – Regularly reviewing your bank statements helps you quickly detect unauthorized transactions. If you notice suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately.

By exercising caution and utilizing some best practices, you can steer clear of falling victim to a check fraud scam.

If You Think You’re a Victim of Check Fraud

It’s important to act quickly to minimize the potential damage. Here are a few steps you should take:

Contact your bank immediately

Notify your bank or financial institution as soon as you suspect fraud. They can place a hold on your account, stop payment on the fraudulent check, and guide you through the next steps.

File a Police Report

Report the fraud to your local law enforcement agency. Provide them with all the information and evidence you have gathered. A police report can be crucial for further investigations and any legal actions you may need to take.

Report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

File a complaint with the FTC at This helps track and combat fraud on a national level.

Monitor Your Accounts:

Regularly check your bank accounts and credit reports for any additional suspicious activity. Consider contacting credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to place a fraud alert and security freeze on your credit report. You may also consider setting up alerts with your bank for transactions over a certain amount.

Stay Safe with PSB

At Patterson State Bank, safeguarding your finances is our top priority. With our account alerts, eStatements, and credit monitoring available, we offer effective solutions to help combat check fraud.






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