Preventing Check Washing

February 16, 2022

A recent wave of mail theft has hit our area, leading to check washing, a crime that the US Postal Inspection Service defines as scams that “involve changing the payee names and often the dollar amounts on checks and fraudulently depositing them.” Often stolen checks are placed in a chemical bath to remove the handwritten information so that the check can be made out to someone else and the dollar amount changed.  

Many times this crime is multi-layered, making it difficult to pinpoint the perpetrators. In a recent interview, Gulf Coast Bank and Trust’s President and CEO Guy Williams stated that while it is a relatively new crime, it is growing since it is relatively risk-free for the criminals involved.

What can you do to protect yourself? There are a few ways you can work to keep you and your family safe from check washing: 

  • Avoid mailing checks by paying bills online using Gulf Coast’s Bill Pay
  • If you must mail checks, bring them into a post office instead of using outdoor collection boxes
  • Never leave mail in your mailbox overnight
  • Check your account balances daily at GULFBANK.COM 

As always, you can connect with a banker to help answer any questions you may have by connecting with our Call Center at 504-561-6124.