The phrase "the check is in the mail" used to be much more common than it is today. Back when we heard it frequently--either for legitimate reasons (I suppose) or as a sarcastic joke about delay tactics--most people WERE paying bills with checks.

Today, it doesn't happen nearly as much. I think I may only write one check a month; I'd have to, ahem, check. But I hardly do it all, and it would be wise if I stopped doing it altogether. And I know folks who NEVER write checks; they're way ahead of me.

Your Check Is a Field Day for the Corrupt Among Us

When you think about it, a personal check is LOADED with information you cannot let just anyone know. If you think misplacing your debit card is stressful--and it is; don't get me wrong--it's nothing like your checking account information getting into the wrong hands. If they have your account and routing numbers, the nefarious among us can have a FIELD DAY online and bleed you dry.

That's been happening with greater frequency, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury, which informs us that check fraud has skyrocketed 385% since the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A Variety of Examples of Check Fraud

One method on the rise is "check washing," a process in which the bad guys use some type of chemical to remove important information like your name or the payee's name. Here, you'll see examples of washed checks and learn how to ward off this nasty practice:

Unit 21 offers a super-handy guide that will help you prevent check fraud. They also give a variety of check fraud examples, including counterfeiting, forging, and altering.

Are you still writing checks? I mentioned earlier that I write one a month, but I hand-deliver it. If you can't do that--and most don't--it's probably time to go the digital route like I do for 99.9% of payments I make.

This whole thing scares the crap out of me, and I'll do whatever it takes to prevent it.

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