What to Know About Writing Checks While Preventing Fraud

Typewriters vanished, and then cassette tapes and encyclopedias did, too. But paper checks are one piece of our analog past that persists.

American consumers and businesses wrote 11.2 billion checks in 2021, far fewer than the 42 billion written at the start of the century. Despite the rapid decline, check fraud is exploding — costing financial institutions billions and throwing many check writers’ finances into disarray.

After my colleague Ron Lieber and I wrote about rising check fraud, worried readers wrote to us with questions: Is there a safer way to write checks when we must? What about digital payments — aren’t they susceptible to fraud, too?

Many Americans still write checks to pay rent or avoid credit card fees. They also may cling on to checks for cultural reasons or for psychological ones — for example, because writing them out is a manual process, almost like using cash in an increasingly cashless society.

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