You’re waiting for someone to tell you they received your check in the mail…but they never do. You aren’t sure what happened. Then, you find the check has been taken from the mail and cashed by someone else!
What’s the best thing to do when you have a check stolen from the mail and cashed? The quick answer is you should notify your bank, the post office, and also the police.
Of course, this is frustrating, and it’s even more stressful if the money is a large amount. What will happen to the money? Can you get it back?
How do you protect your finances from this happening again? Here’s what to do right now if your check was stolen and cashed.
What Do Thieves Do With Stolen Checks?
If someone takes your check from the mail, what do they do with it once they steal it? What they might do is change the payee’s name and cash the check. This gives them access to the money that should be yours.
They might also sell the check on the black market. Thieves may even change your check, so it’s worth more than the original amount.
Or, in other cases, they’ll use the information on the check to steal your identity. These are bad situations, so you want to take care of this problem immediately.
What Happens if a Check Gets Stolen?
It may take a few days to realize what has happened, but once you know that your check was stolen, or you suspect it was, you should notify the bank as soon as you can.
That way, they’ll know what’s going on and may be able to help you. They might refund your money or even keep the check from being cashed.
Then, you can file a police report. Your money was stolen, which is a crime, so you can definitely let the authorities know and see if there’s anything that can be done.
You can also contact the postal service to let them know.
Next, this is pretty inconvenient but might be the only way to assure your account and identity safety. You should consider closing the associated account and opening a new one instead.
The thieves may have access to the old account and may try to steal more money from you in the future if you don’t close it.
Last, you should monitor all of your accounts and check your credit reports regularly for identity threats. Do this for several months, as the thieves may try to strike again.
The sooner you know about any account activity that wasn’t you, the sooner you’ll get to the bottom of things and be able to prevent future attacks on your account.
How Can You Help Prevent Check Theft?
Check theft is not just annoying; it’s also dangerous for your finances. How can you help to prevent it from occurring in the first place?
The first thing you can do is keep your checkbook in a secure location. Make sure you always know where it is and don’t leave it out where people you don’t know might have access to it.
Use your check registry to keep a close eye on the date you wrote the check and the date it was cashed. You might even verify with the check receiver that they are the ones who cashed it, so you can be sure.
And if a check is taking longer than usual to be cashed, you may also want to check on that.
Next, any time you mail a check, do so cautiously. Use common sense and be careful.
You can also track your check in the mail to see where it is and when it arrives. And consider mailing the check inside a letter or card, so it isn’t apparent.
Another good idea is to be sure to fill out your check with the payee’s name and the amount. Otherwise, it becomes a target for theft easily.
You should be cautious of the information you share with others. Don’t make it evident that you’re mailing a check; do your best to conceal it as much as possible.
Last, only pay with a check when there isn’t another way. If there’s an alternate option where you could get the money to the right person, try that instead.
You could give them cash, bring them the check directly if they’re close by, or choose another form of payment such as Venmo. That way, you can be sure the money got to the right person.
Now you know that sometimes checks can fall into the wrong hands when they’re mailed. And maybe you want to avoid this whole thing and eliminate the risk of losing your money. Here’s what you can do instead.
PayPal allows you to pay others directly and safely. People link their bank accounts to their PayPal accounts, and then others can pay them, and they can give money to other people, also.
It’s a secure way to pay online that doesn’t involve mailing a check. Certain transactions may come with a small percentage fee though.
Zelle allows you to safely send money to anyone. You can send money based on just a phone number or email, so it’s a great way to pay for anything.
It’s super fast and connects to bank accounts, so if checks aren’t an option, this can work very well as a replacement.
It can be scary when you have a check stolen and cashed. You should notify the bank and the police immediately.
This situation can be difficult and worrisome, but you aren’t on your own! If you had a check stolen from the mail and cashed, be sure to report the crime, inform the post office, and make your bank aware of the situation.
They can all be on the lookout to see if they can find out what happened and maybe help to prevent future check stealing. Plus, you can likely get your money back or at least make it much more difficult for thieves to get your money.
Above all, be cautious when mailing a check, and do your best to find alternative forms of payment, as mailing a check isn’t the safest way to send money.