Even with today's modern security technologies, it is still possible to cash stolen checks. You might wonder, "If I cash a check can it be traced?" In some cases, it cannot, and it all depends on where and how it is done.
If I Cash a Check Can it Be Traced?
The writers at Coldwire post that cashed checks are indeed traceable, but it is not always possible to know if checks were cashed or deposited. Depending on the bank, if the amount is more than $2,500 the person must provide identification and the transaction is recorded. Identification is usually needed for smaller amounts as well. If the check is made out for more than $10,000, the information is automatically submitted to the IRS via a CTR, or currency transaction report.
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Check-cashing companies provide cash on the spot but can charge around three to five percent of the check amount for their services. However, the IRS requires check cashers to keep records for five years, specifically CTRs for amounts exceeding $10,000. It is possible to cash checks and have no money trails, but doing so illegally is considered to be fraud and can land someone in jail.
ID is Required
According to Huntington, while most banks and check-cashing services require IDs, some places do not when the person has a cashier's check. There are local retailers and grocery stores that cash checks and may not ask for this personal information. It may also be possible to deposit a check into an ATM and to have the money put onto a prepaid debit card.
Since most places ask for an ID, people who cash stolen checks often have fake IDs that have the checking account owner's name and address. They also forge signatures and avoid cameras. Another way to cash stolen checks is to make them out to cash, and thieves also use stolen checks online. All they need is the account number and routing number.
Monthly bank statements list cashed checks, so it is important for account holders to look these over often and to look for any unauthorized checks. When someone cashes a stolen check, they can be paid right away. If the account holder discovers it, the bank will attempt to reverse the transaction. First Quarter Finance posts that banks investigate stolen and cashed checks, but it is important to report this to local law enforcement, the bank, the payor and any government agencies if applicable. It is not unusual for people to have their Social Security checks stolen from their mailboxes.
Keeping Checks Safe
Check fraud is an unfortunate reality of modern life, but there are ways to protect checks, as described by Bank5. They also recommend monitoring bank accounts regularly to check for and report any suspicious activity. This source also prefers customers to make payments online, or to use P2P electronic payment systems like PayPal (some banks also provide P2P services).
When checks must be mailed, they should be sent in security envelopes or be sandwiched in between other pieces of paper to help avoid detection. Dropping them off at a post office is also better than leaving checks out in a mailbox. Checkbooks should be stored in safe locations like locked drawers or safes, and it is never a good idea to make checks out to "cash." Old checks should be shredded since thieves are also known to search through trashcans and recycling bins.
- Coldwire: Are Cashed Checks Traceable? (Everything To Know)
- IRS: ITG FAQ #4 Answer-What are the recordkeeping requirements for check cashers?
- Huntington: How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account or ID
- First Quarter Finance: What to Do If a Check Is Stolen and Cashed
- Bank5: How to Protect Yourself When Using Paper Checks