Friday, July 19, 2024

SCAM OF THE MONTH – Check Cooking

HomeMoneySCAM OF THE MONTH - Check Cooking

Last year, the big thing was check washing, where thieves stole paper checks from postal boxes, mailboxes or even carriers and then washed the checks with chemicals, keeping the signature but erasing the amount and the payee so they could fill in a new name and amount. But now, they’ve discovered a less messy way to steal.

In check cooking, thieves take a digital picture of a stolen check and then use commercially available software to alter it.

“It looks very real, even with the watermarks and all,” explains Michael Bruemmer, vice president of data breach resolution and consumer protection at Experian, a global credit verification and financial services firm. Criminals can print a new phony check or else just deposit the altered image using a bank’s mobile app, he notes.

How to stay safe: Consider using a safer payment method, such as a credit card. But if you choose to write paper checks, scammers still need to steal a physical copy. Make it harder for them. Instead of putting the check in a mailbox, drop it off directly at the nearest post office. And continually monitor your checking account and watch for any suspicious transactions.

If you suspect suspicious activity with your checking account, contact your financial institution and ask for the Fraud Department. You may also need to file a police report with the local authorities.

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