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Protect Yourself From Rising Check Fraud

Despite the decline in check writing by individuals and many businesses, check fraud is on the increase—especially when checks are sent through the mail—alerted officials with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) earlier this year.1

While check fraud schemes are wide and varied, more recently fraudsters are stealing mail out of mailboxes and even U.S. postal boxes in search of bill payments or checks being mailed to fraudulently use in their scheme. The criminals then engage in “check washing” where they erase information like dates, payee names, and the amount but leave the signature intact. The criminals then rewrite the check to themselves for a higher amount and cash the check.

First State Bank customers are being impacted in greater ways, too, by many types of fraud including check fraud. So, how can you protect yourself? Here are a few important tips.

  1. Monitor your bank account frequently. While you should always review your monthly statement on a timely basis, it’s even better to log in to review your account balances, checks, and other transactions every few days via our Mobile App or Online Banking. You can also view images of checks that have cleared your account. Important: Always use a secure network or data connection—not a public Wi-Fi—when accessing your account information.
  2. Report suspicious activity right away. Fraud rarely stops at a single check or transaction, so please contact your local branch or our Customer Care Center as soon as you notice any transactions in your First State Bank accounts that don’t look right. Important: You must report suspicious activity or errors with your account no later than 60 days after we mailed or made available electronically to you the first statement on which the problem or error appeared.
  3. Pay your bills online. Online Bill Pay is a secure and convenient way to pay your bills rather than mailing a check. With Bill Pay added to your Online Banking, you can schedule recurring bills, such as loan payments or utility bills, to be made automatically, or you can log into Online Banking or our Mobile App to make payments at your discretion. Setting up payments via ACH or using a debit card may also be an option.
  4. Take outgoing mail to a post office. If you still prefer writing checks for payments, consider taking them to your nearest post office during business hours and handing it to a clerk or slide it through an outgoing mail slot inside the building rather than mailing them from your home mailbox or placing them in an outdoor mail receptacle where they might sit in the box overnight.

If you have Online Banking but aren’t using Bill Pay or our Mobile App, it’s easy to get started. 

Learn more about Bill Pay

Learn more about Mobile App

Finally, if you think you might be the victim of fraud, contact your local branch as soon as possible. Our staff can guide you through the steps you will need to take to report the issue and help restore your financial peace of mind.


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