With fraud on the rise, you may want to re-think sending a check payment in the mail.

The U.S. Postal Service has issued a warning to its users about it. Do NOT put checks in the mail because more of them are getting stolen. According to a report, Americans wrote out 3.4 billion checks in 2022. The Postal Service reports that mail theft doubled in 2021, banks reported check fraud had jumped to 680,000 in 2022, which was up from 300,000 in 2021.

The United States Postal Inspection Service received 38,500 reports of mail theft in 2022. According to a report from aarp.org, the check fraud problem continues to surge from mailboxes, trucks, and robberies of mail carriers. In 2022, 412 U.S. Postal Service letter carriers were robbed.

The thieves who steal from mail collection boxes (including personal mailboxes) want the checks, which they alter or “wash” to direct the money — often increasing the original dollar amount — to themselves or someone in their criminal network. Many stolen checks are put up for sale on the dark web for other criminals to purchase.

While we're on the subject of mail, did you know there are 5 banned items you can't mail in Washington?

If you absolutely must mail a check, do the following:

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• Send your payment in a security envelope and take it directly to the post office.

• Write your check using a black gel ink pen to make it harder for criminals to wash the check.

There are payment alternatives available

• Look for ways to pay your bills online. A lot of times you have the option to pay from a mobile app. 

• If you're paying an individual, ask them if they'll accept electronic payment through Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, or another cash app.

8 Things You Can't Mail

Before you head to the post office, take a look at this.

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