Even paranoids have enemies and regular readers of this blog/website are aware that, due to security issues, I strongly advise against using a debit card for purchases. I advise that you only use your debit card as an ATM card and even there, you should be careful when doing so to be on the lookout for tampered ATM machines that can steal your information. You can read earlier posts for more details. Credit cards carry their own risks and even though federal law limits your liability for unauthorized, fraudulent purchases to no more than $50, a compromised credit card can still cause you problems. For those of you thinking about making your holiday purchases and other purchases by way of a good old fashioned check, you too should be wary. It is a very simple thing for identity thieves to steal your check from your mailbox if you put it in an envelope to pay a bill and leave it in your mailbox outside your home. Identity thieves also break into corner mail collection boxes and steal mail with checks too. Finally, rogue clerks at stores may steal your checks as well. It is then a simple thing to take ordinary bleach or other similar liquids to wash clean the name of the person to whom the check is made out as well as the amount of the check and then insert the identity thief’s name and a figure that would make you blush.
Fortunately, you are not powerless and the solution, in fact is quite simple. Instead of writing your checks using a common ball point pen switch to a gel pen which is a common type of pen that you can buy anywhere, but whose ink will not vanish under chemical washes. Fountain pens also do not use the type of ink that can be readily washed, but the gel pen is simpler and easier to use. Another important thing to remember is to cross shred your personal documents including checks that you no longer need and are discarding. Identity thieves go through trash for their treasure including checks that they can use to make counterfeit checks using your account. Finally check your banks statements promptly after receiving them for signs of theft. If you do report checking account fraud more than thirty days after receiving your bank statement, the bank does not have to reimburse you for fraudulent, counterfeit checks.