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By Heritage Bank on February 22, 2024
1 minute read

Businesses Are Prime Targets of Check Washing Thieves: Take Steps to Protect Your Deposits

You have probably seen the news reports and alerts on social media about check washing scammers stealing personal mail in search of checks sent to businesses, utilities and nonprofits.

However, businesses need to be on alert for check washing, too because you are their preferred targets.

Businesses often write bigger checks, have larger deposit accounts and send out checks at the same time of the month, making is easier for a forged check to be processed along with several legitimate checks. Every bank in our region, including Heritage Bank, knows of business customers who have been hit with this scam.

Check washing starts by scammers stealing mail from personal boxes and even U.S. Postal Service boxes to seize checks. With some common household chemicals, they wash the name and amount off your checks, then type in their name or fake identity and their preferred amount.

How to avoid check-washing schemes

· Take advantage of electronic payment methods. Ask Treasury Management about options for making and receiving payments electronically.

· If you must mail a check, be careful. Always drop snail mail at a post office, preferably through the lobby mail slot.

· Communicate your hours to the post office. If your small business isn’t open on Saturdays or other weekdays, consider asking the post office not to deliver mail on those days or start sending someone to pick up your mail.

· Make your mailbox more secure. Security cameras near the mailbox may deter thieves or at least capture footage of the theft. Also, always use a locked mailbox.

· Monitor your accounts. Heritage Bank makes Secure Alert available for free to every customer. You can customize alerts in a myriad of ways to monitor all types of account transactions and even balances. You can even choose whether to receive alerts through text or email.

· Talk to Treasury Management about Positive Pay. The service allows business customers to stop fraud in two ways: (1) submit a list of checks with check numbers, check amounts and addressees to the bank to cross reference when processing check or (2) opt to receive a notification every time someone deposits a check written from their deposit account to review and approve before it is processed.

Published by Heritage Bank February 22, 2024