Check Washing

You’ve heard of money laundering. How about check washing? I’m Amy E. Feldman.

A Denver woman was lucky that her bank was paying attention last week or she’d have been the victim of a check washing scheme. According to the somewhat ambiguously named National Check Fraud Center (they are the good guys, right?) Check washing is a crime in which fraudsters intercept your checks from the mail, erase the ink on the check with chemicals found in common household cleaning products and then rewrite them to themselves. It’s estimated the crime costs 815 million dollars every year in the U.S. 

The Denver woman was lucky that her bank noticed a check much larger than her normal pattern, but she still had to close the account and get a new one. To prevent it from happening to you, authorities suggest not putting bills in a residential mailbox; that red flag sticking up is like an invitation to a thief. Picking up new books of checks at your local bank instead of having them mailed, using electronic bill pay, and checking your bank statements as often as you do the wash.

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