Arizonans are writing fewer checks, but check fraud is increasing nationally

Check fraud is up because fraudsters are getting smarter and better regarding paper checks.
Updated: Nov. 9, 2023 at 5:30 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Chances are pretty good that you haven’t written a check in years. And why would you when digital banking apps like Zelle or other popular mobile and online banking services help transfer money around much more conveniently?

So, this might surprise you. “Across the industry, we’ve seen a significant rise in check fraud and scams,” said Joe Bernardo, a fraud expert for Wells Fargo. He says that while fewer checks are being written, check fraud is up. That’s because fraudsters are getting smarter and better regarding paper checks. “There are a number of types of scenarios here, including altered checks, forged endorsements, checks that are counterfeited and checks that are stolen and washed by fraudsters,” he explained.

So, how can you protect yourself?” He recommends the following steps. “Number one, write in non-erasable black ink. Number two, sign up for account alerts. That way, you can be notified of activity happening in your account. Number three, if you must mail a check, please go do that at the post office and deliver it yourself versus putting it in the mail, which can be stolen easier,” he explained. Bernando also recommends reviewing your account as frequently as possible to help minimize the time it takes to discover the fraud.

Finally, when receiving and depositing a paper check, wait before accessing the funds. Just because you’ve deposited the check does not mean the check will clear because of the check-writing process. In some scenarios, it takes days or weeks for banks to confirm the legitimacy of the check you deposited.

The American Bankers Association recently released the following information on check fraud.

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