CINCINNATI—When it comes to protecting your money, there seem to be new—and old—ways to scam people. One of those scams is check washing. Fifth Third Bank has tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
What is check washing?
Check washing is when thieves steal checks from mailboxes and mail carriers. Once the thieves have the checks in hand, they use common household cleaning products such as bleach or acetone to remove all the information on the check—except for the signature.
Then, the thieves change the payee names and dollar amounts to fraudulently deposit the checks into their own account or sell them to other fraudsters. Once a thief has access to your check, they have access to your account.
How can you avoid becoming a victim?
To help keep you and your accounts protected from check washing, it’s important to check your accounts often – you can do that through online banking or a mobile app.
If you must use the mail to send checks:
- Be sure to check your mailbox and get your mail frequently.
- Have the post office hold your mail while you’re on vacation.
- If you’re the one mailing a check, consider walking it directly into the post office.
Alternatives to check
There are several alternative, more secure ways to make or receive payments, which can help protect you from check washing and other scams.
- Online bill pay: It’s not just for utilities. Payments can be issued either electronically or in the form of a check.
- Credit card: It’s worth checking to see if you’re able to pay a different way, perhaps with a credit card.
- A money order or cashier’s check: Neither of these will expose your account number like a check will.
Fifth Third Bank is committed to assisting customers who have experienced fraud on their account. We recommend our customers contact Fifth Third Bank to report suspected fraud by calling the call center (800-972-3030) or visiting their local Fifth Third financial center. From there, our representatives can help determine the best next steps, as situations differ.
About Fifth Third
Fifth Third is a bank that’s as long on innovation as it is on history. Since 1858, we’ve been helping individuals, families, businesses and communities grow through smart financial services that improve lives. Our list of firsts is extensive, and it’s one that continues to expand as we explore the intersection of tech-driven innovation, dedicated people and focused community impact. Fifth Third is one of the few U.S.-based banks to have been named among Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies® for several years. With a commitment to taking care of our customers, employees, communities and shareholders, our goal is not only to be the nation’s highest performing regional bank, but to be the bank people most value and trust.
Fifth Third Bank, National Association is a federally chartered institution. Fifth Third Bancorp is the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank and its common stock is traded on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market under the symbol "FITB." Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Member FDIC.