Counterfeiting checks has been a staple of conmen for as long as there have been checks. At one time it took great skill to make a counterfeit copy of a check, but now, armed with some simple computer software a scammer can print out checks with the account number and routing number of your bank quite easily. What the scammer does is get his or hands on a check of yours and then take the information from it to make a new fake check with one critical difference. He or she changes the name on the check to his or her own name or whatever alias he or she is using. He or she can then use your bank account accessed through phony checks to pay for whatever he or she wants. In one recent Milwaukee case, the scammer went on a $350,000 shopping spree. When the check is given to a store clerk, the clerk merely confirms by seeing the identification of the person providing the check and, of course, it matches the name that has been now attached to the check even though the account number on the check matches the victim’s account and not that of the scammer. This is a deviously simple scam and it is one about which you should be aware.
Scammers need a copy of your check in order to counterfeit it. Don’t pay your bills with checks and then put the letter containing the check in your own mailbox for your carrier to pick up. Raising the red flag on your mail box to alert the mail carrier that there is mail there to be picked up is also an invitation to a con artist to steal your mail and your checks. When you need to get new checks, don’t have your bank mail them to you. Again, a scammer can go through your mailbox. Go to the bank directly and pick up your new checks or have them delivered to a Post Office Box in the post office. When you get rid of old checks, don’t just throw them out in the trash. Shred them with a cross shredder so identity thieves cannot go through your trash and come up with treasure. Finally, carefully check your monthly checking account statement every month to make sure that you have not become a victim of identity theft and if you find that you have become a victim, report it to your bank and the police immediately.