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May 2024

Be Aware of Check Cooking Fraud

Scammers are using the new technologies to manipulate information on checks, which can be used to withdraw money from victim’s accounts. This type of fraud is known as “Check Cooking.”

Check cooking is a type of fraud that alters the image of a stolen check to deposit it as a paper check or image capture. It used to be called ‘check washing,’ referring to physically removing or altering the ink from a written check.

Criminals have since elevated the practice and now all they need is a digital photograph of a check. Using software commercially available, scammers can remove any writing on the check and print out as many counterfeit checks as they want.

To stay under the radar, they write out several small checks, instead of one big check.

Here’s some tips to staying safe:

  • Consider using a safer payment method, such as a credit card or ACH.
  • If you still need to write paper checks, don’t mail checks from home; instead, drop them off directly at the nearest post office.
  • Check your mail daily to ensure no one steals a check or other mail from your box.
  • Continually monitor your personal and business checking account and watch for suspicious transactions

What to do if you are a victim of check cooking:

  • Contact your banking institution right away.
  • File a police report with your local police department.

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