Paper Check Risks

Thieves are targeting mail to steal personal checks, business checks, government checks and tax refund checks. At risk are USPS collection boxes, unsecured residential mailboxes, and multi-mailboxes at apartment complexes and planned neighborhoods.

Check washing
After stealing checks, thieves may try to “wash” the checks to remove the payee name and dollar amount and replace it with fraudulent information and a larger check amount. These can be used to drain your account of funds.

Better alternatives than paper checks
Huntington Beach Credit Union members have access to online Bill Pay that lets you pay any person, vendor, or company easily and securely. Other tips to protect yourself:

  • Promptly pick up mail: Do not leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door. If you’ll be away from home, use the USPS Hold Mail Service.
  • Ask about overdue mail: If you’re expecting a check, credit card, or other valuable mail, contact the sender if you have not received it in the expected time.
  • If you must mail a check: Take the check into a Post Office directly. Also, don’t put outbound mail in your home mailbox with the red flag up as this is an obvious signal to thieves.
  • Free notification service: Sign up for the USPS’ free Informed Delivery service that sends you a daily update and preview image of mail on its way to your address.
  • Secure your checkbook: Don’t leave your checkbook in your car, purse or in your desk. Treat your checkbook like cash and keep it secure.
  • Sign up for Direct Deposit: If you receive government, tax refund or retirement payments, sign up to receive them via direct deposit. We can also help you set this up.

If you think you’ve been a mail theft victim, contact the US Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455 or click here.