PSA: Check Washing Fraud
Check washing has become a new fraudulent trend where thieves steal your check from your mailbox, wash the writing off the check, and then add their own information to the check. Afterwards, they deposit the check into their own bank account. Let’s look closer into how you can keep your finances safe!
What is Check Washing?
Check washing happens when fraudulent thieves steal your check, then use special chemicals to remove the ink on the check, leaving behind only the paper. This allows them to rewrite the blank check to themselves with a higher amount, leaving you liable with all the debt. Personal checks are very vulnerable to this type of tampering due to the soft and porous paper used. This type of fraud can be hard to detect because the tampered checks look legitimate to banks as well as to the normal ordinary person.
What are the solutions?
Switching to black or blue gel ink pens are the best way to protect yourself from check washing threats. This is due to gel ink pens being made with a water-based gel which binds to the porous paper, allowing the ink to dry faster to the paper without smearing. This process makes them almost resistant to most chemicals and is your best bet to make them tamper-proof from any washing attempts. Traditional ballpoint pens use oil-based ink and allow fraudsters to easily remove the ink from checks with several chemicals. Gel ink pens are not only fun and functional but will help keep peace of mind when writing checks!
Procedures & Helpful Tips
Out of Band Authentication (OOBA) Procedures:
Step-by step procedures walk you through setting up the OOBA on your Internet/Mobile Banking account. This provides an extra layer of security on your IB/MB account.
Mobile Deposit Capture Procedures:
Step-by-step procedures walk you through endorsing and depositing a check through the Mobile Deposit Capture within the American Heritage Bank Mobile Banking App.
Step-by-step procedures to walk you through filling out the online form to open-up a new account.
Self-Enrollment Internet Banking Procedures:
Step-by-step procedures to walk you though self-enrolling in our Internet Banking.
Do's and Don'ts of Internet Banking
Do’s and Don’ts of Internet Banking
- Choosing your password: It is highly recommended you never use family member, pet, street, or other commonly known names as your password. The harder your password is to guess, the more secure your information is.
- When visiting a secure website, (such as the banks) type the address directly into the browser bar rather than following a link found from a search engine (such as Google, MSN, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc.). The link could be a fictitious web wanting to steal your information.
- Only provide personal information on sites that have “https” (the “s” means it is a secure site) in the web address, have a locked padlock or key icon located somewhere on the web page. There may be other methods used for identifying secure web sites.
- Be extremely wary of e-mails asking for confidential information. Do not provide personal information to any unsolicited e-mail requests for information even if it states it is from a trusted site such as the banks or a government entity. American Heritage, other financial institutions, or government offices will not request confidential information through e-mails. Confirm the authenticity of a suspicious request before responding to an e-mail and only open e-mail attachments that come from a trusted source and that are expected.
- Scan e-mails attachments with anti-virus software prior to opening and delete all unwanted messages without opening. Spyware may come as a part of a “free deal” offer – Do not accept free deals offers over the Internet because once you opened the offer, you are giving someone the opportunity to install spyware, viruses, Trojans, etc. on your operating system. Do not accept or open suspicious error dialogs from within the browser, it could have attachments that could steal your information or harm your computer. Ensure that antivirus software is up to date and that all Windows security updates are applied.
- Keep web browser up to date with the latest security patches. Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer provides website security to a certain point by keeping information safe while in transit and away from prying eyes. A patch is a correction to a flaw in the system therefore it is important to install product updates and security patches (if they are available) before signing off on to Internet Banking or any other website where you may need to enter confidential information.
- Make sure your computer is configured securely. If you are uncertain about this process, ask someone with more computer knowledge to assist you.
There are other tips on how to use Internet Banking safely in the Internet Security Policy. For additional information see “Security Tips”.
Below are a number of resources to provide you with information and tips on how to keep your personal information safe. From password safety tips, to how to keep your information and identity safe while conducting business online, here are resources below:
- Privacy, Identity, & Online Security
- Choosing and Protecting Passwords
- Supplementing Passwords
- Safeguarding Your Data
- Protecting Your Privacy
- Using Caution with Email Attachments
- Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks
- Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites
- Identify Theft
- Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft
FDIC Useful Contacts Regarding Identity Theft
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
For more information visit: