This is not a realistic option for everyone, but authorities have issued an urgent warning to Illinois residents to stop mailing checks or to potentially suffer dire consequences.

Have you heard of check washing? It's an urgent matter that has victimized many in Illinois and the United States Postal Inspector's Office is advising anyone that can to please stop mailing letters with checks in them. The Better Business Bureau is also warning of the terrible things that can happen when someone intercepts your mailed check.

Here's how check washing works:

  • You put a check in the mail and put it in your mailbox
  • Thieves will steal the letter out of your mailbox and replace the payee information with their own
  • Many thieves also change the amount and increase it
  • The company you sent the check to reports they haven't received payment and you still owe them
  • Many evildoers will also use the check information toward further identity theft

This results in millions of dollars in loss for Illinois residents and has become so commonplace that the Illinois Educator's Credit Union has issued a warning about how to protect yourself from check washing. According to the Chicago Tribune, there was just a recent check washing scam that was happening in Winnetka, Illinois.

This is happening all over Illinois.

If you have no option to pay for services online and must use the mail service, the Better Business Bureau advises that you don't put mail in your mailbox with a flag up, but take it directly to the post office and mail it inside the building. They also advise that you don't drop the letter in a box outside after the last pickup of the day.

The best option is to not mail checks at all if you can avoid it.

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