Protect yourself from check washing - CBS46 News

Protect yourself from check washing

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ATLANTA (CONSUMER ALERT) -

You've probably heard of money laundering, but what about check washing?

Julie DiMaggio learned about the crime first-hand.

DiMaggio wrote a check to a copy center and quickly realized something was wrong when she checked her bank statement.

"The check cashed for $2,100 and I had actually written it for $125," DiMaggio said.

When she called the copy center to complain, she realized the company had also been victimized.

"They told me that they had their mailbox broken into. Because it was outside and over a holiday weekend, it went unchecked for several days and when they came in, someone had taken all of their mail," she said.

Turns out DiMaggio was not alone. The thieves had stolen checks from the mail at several businesses.

"The criminals took these checks and they erased the payee on the check, sometimes they erase the amounts on the checks as well," US Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez said.

The criminals then write in the amount they'd like to cash and go to the bank.

"The checks were cashed because they looked legitimate, they were real checks they were just altered and the criminals were able to take the money from the checks that they cashed," said Alvarez.

There are 3 simple steps you can take to protect your mail and help prevent yourself from this type of fraud:

  1. Pick it up as soon as possible after it's delivered.
  2. Do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight or over the weekend.
  3. Check your bank statements closely.

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