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Protect Yourself from Check-Washing

Authored By: James Falkenstrom on 7/6/2023

It’s not only packages that get stolen from front stoops and common areas of condominium complexes; according to NBC10 Boston, “Mail is being targeted in check-washing scams in many communities in Massachusetts.” Law enforcement in many local communities began issuing warnings about the practice earlier this year, encouraging residents to change how they handle their mail. In Weston, MA, police issued a warning following the fraudulent cashing of at least a dozen checks taken from a mailbox. In Roxbury, MA, one resident had mailed a $50 check to Texas this past fall. A few weeks later, he realized the item had never arrived and decided to visit his bank. The check had been forged: “They had taken [the intended recipient’s] name out and put in another name. The amount instead of $50 was $15,822” (Gaydos)1.

Unfortunately, package thieves and check-washing schemes are just two of many scams within our society. In a culture where fraud is as fierce as ever, what are some tools our members can utilize to mitigate risk and maximize their MIT FCU membership? Let us begin by highlighting our secure and efficient Bill Pay platform – available within e-Branch and mobile banking.

Bill Pay is a service our financial institution offers that allows members with a checking account to pay their bills digitally. Payments can be made with a one-time frequency or on a deliberate, recurring basis. For members that juggle several payments on a regular basis, online Bill Pay can save time and even help avoid late fees. There’s no need to pay your energy bill on Eversource’s website, your Discover credit card within Discover’s mobile app, or your T-Mobile phone bill as a guest on their website, then write a physical check to your landlord to satisfy monthly rent. This can all be managed in one place – within e-Branch or our mobile app.

Our online Bill Pay interface is very simple to navigate. Upon logging into online banking, hover over the “Payments” tab, then select “Bill Pay.” To add a payee, click the “Add Payee” button in Bill Pay Dashboard. You’ll add (1) the payee name, (2) payee details such as account number and payee zip code, and then (3) you’ll confirm the information you’ve provided. If a given payee is unable to be paid electronically, the system will disclose this information to you, and you will select “Continue as Check Payee” to arrange for payment. Between Bill Pay and our other innovative services like “Person to Person” and external account transfers, checkbooks are no longer a necessity as they once were. Standard Bill Pay is entirely free of charge; a fee applies only when a member requests expedited, 2-business-day delivery. A per-item fee of $19.95 is assessed in these instances.

As previously suggested, the process of adding payees is quick and easy. From there, scheduling your one-time and recurring payments is just as simple. Optional memos can be printed on chosen checks, and members can receive payment initiation and payment delivery notifications.

Our mobile Bill Pay portal can be accessed by selecting the “Pay” option within the app’s bottom toolbar. From here, select the top option – “Bill Pay.” This brings the user to the same Bill Pay Dashboard discussed earlier. Once all desired payees have successfully been added, payments can be scheduled for delivery to the proper recipient by selecting the said recipient from the “Quick Pay” payee drop-down.

Our e-Branch and mobile app offer far more than this convenient Bill Pay portal. We offer “Person-to-Person” (P2P) payments and external transfers, allowing members of MIT FCU to transfer freely between their internal accounts and their accounts held at other financial institutions. In addition to internal and external funds transfers, P2P, and Bill Pay, members also can use Loan Pay to manage their MIT FCU loans.

That said, the most time-saving aspect of the mobile app may involve Mobile Check Deposit or Remote Deposit Capture. Log into mobile or online banking to begin exploring these features today!


Gaydos, Leslie. “When a Roxbury Man Lost Almost $16K to Check Washing Scheme, He Called NBC10 Boston for Help.” NBC Boston, 2 Mar, 2023.

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