We all work hard for our money, however, there always seems to be someone working just as hard to scam us out of our earnings.

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A scam that has seen an increase in Alabama victims over the course of 2023 is known "check washing."

Now, I know what you are thinking “Who writes checks anymore?”

Actually, my parents and many of their friends still write checks to pay for utilities, groceries and other goods and services.

There are those Alabama seniors who write checks to pay bills and leave the checks in their mailbox for the postal service to pick up and deliver. Unfortunately, that simple act could make them a victim of this crime.


What is Check Washing and how does it work?

The scam works like this:

  1. A scammer will look for mailboxes where someone has written a check and left it for the postal service to pick up for delivery.
  2. They'll steal the check and then use chemicals to remove the ink that lists the actual payee and change it to their name, or change the amount the check is written for.
  3. They then cash the check, and the money is gone.
A Male Hand Filling Out The Amount On A Cheque

Here are a few things AARP says folks can do to help prevent this from happening:

  • Never leave a check in an unlocked mailbox overnight - it could be a potential target.
  • Don’t use the standard ink, use black gel ink. So far, it appears to be the only ink that chemicals can’t wash off.
  • If you drop a check off at the post office outside mailbox, do it when it is close to the time for the postal service to empty the box.
  • Consider a digital method of payment instead of writing checks
  • Always monitor your bank statement to see if the check clears and by whom.

If you are an Alabama senior or have a senior loved one and want to know more about scams that target their demographic to keep them safe, check AARP.com for more details.

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