- Posted by Jacob Gordon
- On March 14, 2023
We are in the process of preparing a presentation on Preventing Frauds and Scams. The vastamount of information concerns Cyber Fraud which is a crime committed via a computer withthe intent to corrupt another individual’s personal and financial information stored online.However, there are still plenty of “low tech” frauds and scams being perpetrated. One suchcrime, Check Washing, is on the rise across the U.S., according to this excellent article fromAARP. Thieves steal checks a number of ways:1. Mail left in unlocked residential mailboxes.2. Stealing keys to U.S. Postal Services collection boxes from mail carriers giving access tohundreds of letters at a time.3. Fishing mail out of U.S. Postal mailboxes with string and some type of adhesive at theend.Once they have the checks they will “wash” them with a basic household chemical that candissolve many kinds of ink. This allows them to “make it out to whomever they want, changethe dollar amount, and forge the customer signature from the check. Sometimes they can evenput some superglue over the signature of the check while washing it, to keep the [original]signature.”, according to Mark Solomon, vice president of the International Association ofFinancial Crimes Investigators.The problem doesn’t just end with the loss of money from the forged check. According to DavidMaimon, director of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia StateUniversity, washed checks can sold to criminals along with “Social Security numbers and thesize of their bank balances, “so you know how much money you can withdraw.” The personalinformation on the check can be used to take out loans, set up lines of credit or open up otherbank accounts.If you think your mail has been stolen here’s what you should do, according to this AARP articlefrom September 21, 2022, Mail Theft, Check Fraud on the Rise, USPS Warns:1. Report suspected mail losses to the USPIS, which uses such reports to identify problemareas and where to focus crime investigations, at uspis.gov/report, or by calling 877-876-2455.2. Notify your bank. If you’re a victim of check fraud, “you’re usually not held responsible,”says Solomon. “Most of your financial institutions will make you whole.”3. Report the theft to local law enforcement so you’ll have a police report documentingthe crime.Here are 3 ways to prevent check washing:1. Use a gel pen. Regular ball point pens are easily washed. Gel pens permeate the fibersof the paper making it difficult to alter.2. Use electronic debits or bill paying for your bills. Do this from the comfort of your homeon a secure connection, not in a café or other public space. Also, regularly check youchecking and credit card account transactions.3. Go to the Post Office to send your mail, not a mailbox.We’ll be writing about the numerous cyber scams and frauds. Whether it is over the internet,on the phone or through the mail, it is critical to stay aware of potential financial crimes.
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Do you know of any useful technology home healthcare products? I’d love to hear about your experiences with them.