Just about any type of payment you make can be done without paper checks these days. You can pay your bills through online portals, shop with credit cards or mobile payment apps and send money to your friends and family with Venmo or Zelle.
But many people and businesses still rely on paper checks in the mail to do business, at least some of the time. And while mailing a check in the United States is reasonably safe, paper checks do run the risk of being lost or stolen. Thieves can even use checks to learn your bank account number and routing number, which are printed on the check.
The next time you drop a check in the mail, you can follow these steps to help increase security and that your payment reaches the intended recipient.
1. Restrict the Paper Check
For better check security, you can restrict the check by dictating that it can only be deposited in the bank account of the intended recipient. Simply write “For deposit only” on the back of the check where the signature goes. This method isn’t 100% foolproof, as a bank teller could miss it or ignore it.
But it can help make it less likely that a thief is able to successfully cash the check or sign it over to somebody else, especially without leaving a paper trail.
2. Use a Security Envelope for Checks
Some envelopes are very thin and slightly transparent, making it easy to determine if there is a check inside. Consider buying some security envelopes, which are designed to conceal the contents of your mail. If you don’t have any, you can also simply enclose the check in a folded piece of paper before stuffing it in the envelope.
3. Drop the Mail at a Secure Location
If you leave the mail sitting in an unsecured mailbox, anyone can come by and snatch it before the postal worker can collect it. Next time you mail a check, consider dropping it off at a secure location. You can put the mail in an official locked post office mailbox, drop it off at the post office or hand it directly to your mail carrier.
4. Send the Check Via Certified Mail
If you really want proof that the check arrives at its desired location, send it via certified mail. This requires someone to sign for the check when it arrives. The receipt is sent back to you as proof of delivery.
If you need an extra layer of protection after sending a paper check in the mail, consider signing up for an identity theft and credit monitoring plan. You will receive real-time fraud alerts and access to customer service representatives trained in dealing with fraud and identity theft.