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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , check washing, ,   

    Check washing scam hits Conn. town hard 

    Check washing scam hits Conn. town hard

    By Greg Collier

    Police in West Hartford, Connecticut, have been receiving an inordinate number of complaints from residents who had checks stolen from mailboxes. Thieves will steal mail from both residential and public mailboxes in hopes they’ll find a handwritten check. Once they find a check, the thieves will attempt to remove the ink in a process called check washing. The checks will be bathed in a chemical solution that removes the handwritten ink while leaving the rest of the check intact. This allows them to rewrite the check in any amount. As long as there are sufficient funds in the account, the check can be cashed.

    The West Hartford Police are saying that the thieves use a custom-made tool that allows them to steal mail from most mail collection boxes. They also say that the thieves have been taking outgoing mail from residential mailboxes as well. Banks will reimburse customers if their checks are stolen, but that won’t stop the inconvenience of a payment not reaching its intended recipient.

    The best way to protect yourself against check washing is switching to all electronic payments. However, in some cases, only a check can be used. In those cases, when mailing a check, make sure to drop it off inside the post office during business hours. Leaving it in a mail collection box overnight could leave you vulnerable to mail theft. There are also special pens you can buy that are resistant to check washing. Lastly, as a good rule of thumb, you should never leave outgoing mail containing a check in your home mailbox. More mail is stolen from home mailboxes than USPS mailboxes.

    While this most recent story of check washing comes from Connecticut, check washing is a problem that’s been affecting consumers nationwide.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check washing, mail fishing, ,   

    Watch out for sticky mailboxes 

    By Greg Collier

    There used to be a time when the blue US Postal Service mailboxes were considered almost sacred. We would hear all the time about how it was considered a federal crime to tamper with the box, let alone take mail from it. In today’s world, that’s no longer a deterrent keeping con artists and thieves out of postal collection boxes. Previously, when we’ve discussed mail being stolen from collection boxes, the box is overstuffed with mail where bad actors could just reach in and grab a fistful of mail. Now, it seems that mail thieves aren’t even waiting for the mailbox to be full before stealing mail from them.

    Police in Norwood, Massachusetts, have been warning residents there about a string of incidents where mail has been fished out of mailboxes. Mail thieves are using items like bottles that are covered in an adhesive to drop into the mailboxes and hopefully fish out some mail containing checks. As we posted about recently, this so thieves and scammers can dip the checks in chemicals to remove the ink from written and cancelled checks in a process known as check washing.

    Local police are recommending to residents that they should be aware of any mailbox that has any sticky residue on it. This also good advice to anyone who still uses their local mailbox to send their mail. However, the best way to prevent mail theft like this is to drop your mail off inside of your local post office or handing it directly to a mail carrier. It’s also recommended that you write your checks using a gel or felt tip pin, as these inks are more difficult to remove from checks.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check washing, , , St. Louis   

    Checks stolen from post office mailbox 

    By Greg Collier

    As much as we have moved away from paying for items with personal checks, there are still instances when a personal check is still necessary. For example, a woman in the St. Louis area needed to pay a contractor who was building her family a new home. That’s not a service that you can often pay with your debit card. The woman went to her local post office and placed the check that was addressed to the contractor in the collection box outside.

    She probably thought nothing of it until she received a call from her bank. The bank asked her if she had recently written a check for $73,000. She told the bank she didn’t and didn’t know the person that the check was supposedly issued to. The bank then asked her if she had used her local post office to mail the check. The bank said that they have had a number of customers had checks they wrote stolen from that collection box. The checks had all their ink removed and written to out to new recipients. Thankfully, the bank did not let the woman’s stolen check be cashed.

    This scam is known as check washing. It’s when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. The thieves can then write the check to whomever they want for whatever amount they want. As long as there is enough money in the checking account to cover the washed check, the check can be cashed.

    It’s recommended that in order to protect yourself that you switch from checks to electronic payments. However, like we said, in some cases, you have to pay by check. In that case, there are special pens you can buy that resist check washing. If you’re mailing the checks from the post office, have them mailed from inside the post office, where they’re less likely to be stolen. Lastly, never leave your outgoing mail in your home mailbox. More mail is stolen from home mailboxes than USPS mailboxes.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check washing, , ,   

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks 

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks

    By Greg Collier

    I’m sure we’ve all been there. You go the post office and pull up to the outside collection box. It turns out that the mailbox is filled to the brim with mail. You think to yourself that anyone could reach in and take a handful of mail. Then you still place your item to be mailed in the overflowing mailbox. If you’re still paying your bills by mail, you might want to reconsider that stance.

    A collection box outside a post office in Virginia Beach, Virginia has been targeted multiple times for mail theft in the past few months. After the mail was stolen from the box, checks that were supposed to be for bills were washed and cashed for much larger amounts. Check washing is when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. They then put in whatever information on the check that they need. As long as there is enough money in the account the check can be cashed. Some of the checks were rewritten for thousands of dollars more than they were intended for. If that transaction is ignored long enough, you could miss the window you have to dispute the falsified check.

    While this scam may not be as prevalent as others, you still don’t want to be the victim of this scam. It’s recommended that in order to protect yourself that you switch from checks to electronic payments. They can’t steal a check if there’s no check to be stolen. However, if you’re dead set on still mailing checks, there are a few precautions you can take. There are special pens that you can buy that are resistant to check washing. If you’re taking the bills to the post office, have them mailed from inside the post office where they’re less likely to be stolen. Lastly, never leave your outgoing mail in your home mailbox. More mail is stolen from home mailboxes than USPS mailboxes.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check washing, ,   

    Don’t leave your outgoing bills in your mailbox 

    Don't leave your outgoing bills in your mailbox

    When we talk about scams, we mostly warn our readers about online or phone scams. The reason these scams are so prolific is that everyone has a smartphone and a lot of people use weak passwords on their accounts. However, that doesn’t mean that analog scams have disappeared. One such scam recently turned up in reports that use one of the oldest forms of communication in the US to find victims, good old fashioned snail mail. We all know that tampering with someone’s postal mail is a federal offense, but it hasn’t stopped some scammers from taking that risk.

    A couple in Alabama recently found that someone had accessed their bank account and several unauthorized payments were made from their account. They weren’t the victims of any kind of electronic fraud. Instead, someone had stolen their outgoing mail from their mailbox. In that mail were a few bills that they were paying by check. The scammers are then said to have committed what is known as check washing. Check washing is when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. They then put in whatever information on the check that they need. As long as there is enough money in the account the check can be cashed.

    There are ways to prevent check washing from happening. The first is to switch to electronic payments to pay your bills. However, if for whatever reason you have to write checks, there are special pens that you can buy that are resistant to check washing. Instead of leaving outgoing mail in your home mailbox, you may want to take it to the post office instead so you know it gets into the hands of the US Postal Service.

    With a number of relatives writing checks to send as Christmas gifts, this time of year could be especially bad for stolen checks. If you have an older relative that may not be able to get to the post office, offer to take their bills to the post office for them. It’s a little inconvenience for peace of mind.

     
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