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How to Mail a Check Safely

Is it safe to put checks in the mail? Learn how to mail a check safely in this helpful guide.

October 18, 2021

Checks and snail mail may feel like a thing of the past, but occasionally, you’ll be required to do both. 

Checks may no longer be a primary way to conduct transactions, but they’re still commonly used for certain payments. Often, these types of payments require checks by mail. But is it safe to mail a check? 

If done correctly, mailing a check can be perfectly safe. Here’s how you can go about putting checks in the mail with the lowest possible risk of running into issues. 

How to mail a check safely

Like it or not, there’s an inherent level of risk associated with mailing a check. Someone could steal the letter, potentially leading to the check being fraudulently cashed. Or, the letter could simply get lost, possibly resulting in late fees or missed payments. 

By taking a few basic precautions, you can help ensure your check arrives safely: 

  • Conceal the check

  • Restrict the check

  • Add tracking to stay updated on the progress of your letter

  • Avoid mailing a check payable to “cash”

  • Deliver the letter to a safe place

  • Consider alternative payment methods

Each of these factors is broken down in greater detail below. 

Conceal the check

First and foremost, make it difficult to tell that there’s a check in the envelope you’re sending. It can be wise to use security envelopes, which have a thicker exterior that’s difficult to see through. For an extra layer of security, consider wrapping the check in a piece of paper or even enclosing it in a greeting card. 

Restrict the check

“Restricting” a check involves writing something in the endorsement area on the reverse of the check. For mailing purposes, the most useful restriction will be writing “for deposit only” in the endorsement area. This makes it so the check must be deposited directly into a bank account — rather than cashed or transferred to a third party — making it more difficult for thieves to cash the check. 

Consider adding tracking

When you send a check, you might typically mail it in a standard envelope with a stamp. This is cost-effective and simple. However, it does not come with tracking. If you’re sending a higher-value check or just want some added security, it can be worthwhile to add USPS Tracking. 

To do this, you can visit a post office to have a label printed or purchase a shipping label online. You’ll then get a numeric code you can use to track the mailing. This allows you to keep tabs on the envelope and be notified when it arrives at its destination. 

Don’t send a check payable to “cash”

When you put a check in the mail, make it out to a specific payee. It’s important not to use “cash” as the payee, as this allows anyone in possession of the check to cash it. Be wary If you’re ever asked to use “cash” in the payee field as it may be a scam.

Deliver the letter to a safe place

Minimize the risk of a stolen check and take the letter directly to the post office or hand it to a uniformed mail carrier. Ideally, avoid leaving the letter in your outgoing mailbox, as that’s one of the most common places where mail theft occurs.

Consider alternative payment methods

These days, the safest way to send money is through digital payments rather than mailed checks. If you’re frequently making payments through the mail, consider alternative methods. 

Some good options include:

  • Bank transfers (EFTs or bank wires) 

  • Online bill pay through your bank

  • Electronic transfer services such as Zelle or Venmo

  • Debit or credit card payments

These methods are far more secure, as there’s little-to-no risk of the payment being intercepted. Some methods (such as bank wires) may have fees, but most options are no-cost or low-cost. 

Another alternative is using a money order, which is similar to a check sent through the mail. With a money order, there’s still the risk of the letter being intercepted. However, your personal information, including your bank account number and routing number, are not displayed on the money order (whereas they’re included on a personal check). 

A cashier’s check is another option, which offers many of the same benefits as a money order. Plus, cashier’s checks often have additional security features that make them more difficult to forge and fraudulently cash. 

Check’s in the mail — now what?

If you’ve mailed a check and have followed the precautions above, you have nothing to worry about. With that said, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on a few things:  

  • Check your USPS tracking number (if you opted for one) to see when the check arrives

  • Monitor your online banking login to see when the check clears

  • Be on the lookout for notices from the payee that they have/haven’t received the check

  • Ensure you have adequate funds in your checking account to cover the check and avoid overdraft fees

How long does it take to mail a check? For standard mail, letters sent within the United States generally take 2 to 6 days to arrive. For international mail, the time varies depending on the destination. You can find out by checking with the post office when you drop off the letter. 

Securing your finances

Ensuring your mailed checks arrive safely is a responsible way to keep your finances secure. If you’re interested in shoring up other aspects of your financial life, you can check out Tally†. Tally is a powerful finance app that’s helping people pay down credit card debt. 

Learn how Tally works, or browse our resources for improving your financial health here

​​†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.