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Technology is designed to make our lives easier, faster, better... And pay apps like Venmo, Paypal, and Zelle are super convenient, pretty much eliminating the need to even have checks any more.

But, if there are instances where you still have to use a check, you might want to think twice about sending that check through the postal service.  Because just as someone works hard to make things better, there are others who work just as hard to make your life miserable.

About the only checks I have to write anymore are my quarterly business taxes that I have to send in, and a few bills or services done at the house.  I would actually be curious to see how a cashier at Walmart or Target would react if I whipped out the old checkbook and started filling out a check at the register.

But, unfortunately, thieves are keenly aware of the fact that people still send checks through the mail for birthday gifts or to pay bills.  And they take advantage of that fact by robbing mailboxes, and even mugging mail-carriers.

According to a recent AP report, postal carrier thefts rose nearly 30% in 2023. All told, robberies grew sixfold over the past decade and the number of postal carriers held at gunpoint increased even more, according to an analysis of the postal statistics.

I think I first heard about 'check washing' from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Catch Me if You Can."  The story based on true events about Frank Abagnale, who not only impersonated different professionals such as a doctor and airline pilot, but he also was a genius at check washing.

According to the Postal Service, the more recent rise in check washing has been traced back to a gang of meth addicts, who discovered that if you soaked a check in a certain chemical, only the hand-written ink would come off, leaving a blank check that they could fill in and cash.



The US Postal Service explains what check washing is, and how you can help combat it.


How You Can Protect Yourself

The Postal Service offered suggestions on how you can protect yourself from Check Washing.  One way they suggest is to write your checks using the long-lasting, black gel-ink. Apparently, it doesn't wash away as easily.  Other things you can do are:

Deposit mail before last pickup 

Deposit your outgoing mail in blue collection boxes before the last pickup or at your local Post Office™. 

 Retrieve mail frequently 

Never leave your mail in your mailbox overnight. 

 Hold mail at Post Office 

If you’re going on vacation, have your mail held at the Post Office or have it picked up by a friend or neighbor. 

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