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The disappearing check

Clark Behind The Headlines

From HLN's Money Expert Clark Howard

There are a rash of counterfeit checks and forgery cases going on right now from the theft of outgoing mail.

We are getting off-air calls from people who are dealing with identity fraud cases because checks they put in their mailboxes to pay bills have been stolen by criminals, who then wash the checks and write them to themselves or to someone else. They change the amounts. They change the payee. And they cash those things. We’ve also received a notice about this from a police detective who asked us to put out a warning.

Snail mail bill paying is a concept I’m not really familiar with because I pay all my bills electronically which is actually a safer way to pay. But if you insist on paying bills the old fashioned way, you should at least drop them in a secure mailbox. Do NOT put it in your mailbox with that big red flag raised!! Remember what that red flag now signals to a criminal: you have checks ready for them to steal!

And once a criminal has taken your check, washed it and cashed it… it becomes a huge hassle with your bank – one that could have been avoided.

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