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Zelle® is a great way to send money to friends and family, even if they bank somewhere different than you do.1 That means it’s super easy to pitch in or get paid back for all sorts of things like coffee for your coworkers or dinner with friends.

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Check Fraud on the Rise

April 16, 2024

Despite a steep decline in the use of written checks — 82% over the last 30 years, according to the Federal Reserve — check fraud has become increasingly popular among criminals, resulting in billions in losses per year — more than twice what it was five years ago.

While Iowa State Bank implements many measures to help spot check fraud, there are many actions consumers can take to protect themselves as well. That’s why Iowa State Bank is offering seven simple tips consumers can take to avoid becoming a victim of check fraud.

  • Be careful with your mail: Criminals often steal checks through the mail, either taking them directly out of your mailbox or robbing them from the blue U.S. Post Office mailboxes. If you are mailing a check, it’s best to physically take it into the post office.
  • Keep your checks in a secure location: Just like your personal information, it’s important to safeguard your checkbook. When you’re not using it, keep your checkbook and checks in a secure location, such as a safe or lockbox.
  • Use black or blue gel ink: Criminals can easily wash out colored ink from stolen checks. It’s much more challenging for them to wash out black or blue gel ink. That’s because gel ink permeates the pores in the check paper. Criminals can still try to wash gel ink off a check, but they won’t be able to remove the shadow from the original check, making the alteration easier to spot.
  • Pay bills online: Online bill pay tools make it easier to send money without worrying about your check being stolen. Use your bank’s mobile app to set up automatic payments to pay your bills so you don’t miss a payment and avoid the possibility of your check being stolen in the mail.
  • Use mobile payment apps: Peer-to-peer payment apps, such as Zelle, Venmo and PayPal allow you to send money quickly to someone without writing a check. When using these apps, be sure to use a strong password and multi-factor authentication.
  • Don’t become an unwitting accomplice: Be wary of “fast money” offers on social media. Some fraudsters will inundate social media with offers of $200 or more simply for going into a bank and opening an account. By accepting such an offer, you make yourself an accomplice in an illegal check fraud scheme.
  • Review your accounts frequently: Checking your accounts regularly for suspicious activity is a critical step in stopping fraudulent activity and catching criminals who commit check fraud. Report an unauthorized transaction immediately to your bank to reduce the risk of financial loss.

Just as a bank is committed to employing rigorous protocols to prevent check fraud, customers play a pivotal role in guarding their accounts. By staying informed, adopting secure banking practices and promptly reporting any suspicious activity, customers can actively contribute to safeguarding their financial well-being.

Iowa State Bank has the products and services to keep you safe against scammers. Online bill pay? We've got you covered. A peer-to-peer payment app? We've got that too! Learn about the full range of online & mobile banking products here and how you can get started using the Zelle platform through Iowa State Bank here. Our Intelligent, Sophisticated Bankers are here to assist you in utilizing these tools and keeping your accounts protected.

Please don't hesitate to contact us at 515-288-0111 if you have questions or concerns about check fraud or any unusual account activity.