Local News

Protect Yourself from Check Fraud

Posted December 15, 1998

— Bogus checks cost all of us money. Many investigators will not talk about it, because they are worried that it will start copy cat crimes.

Even though police would not go on record with specific numbers, fake checks are all too common in the Triangle.

Writing checks is one of the most common ways we pay for things in this country. But experts warn check fraud is more common than most of us realize.

And now, thieves are not only looking to get your money, they may actually be passing you a bad check.

"Especially this year, we've seen an increase in fake official checks where people will use their computers to make a check that looks very official," said Paul Stock of the North Carolina Bankers Association.

Experts say it is fairly easy to generate fake checks using the most basic computer. And to make matters worse, there is even software on the market to help thieves.

But some thieves are not just satisfied making it look real. They attempt to make it genuine by stealing one of your checks and scanning the numbers onto theirs.

You can protect yourself by using common sense when guarding your checks. Check your bank statements closely each month.

And when in doubt about a check someone has given to you, especially if it's a teller or certified check, you should call the bank.

"If it just looks formal, it doesn't even have to look anything like the official check of that particular bank, because usually you'll never have seen one," said Stock.

Banks are particularly concerned about this crime, because fake checks are usually written for expensive items. The losses really add up, especially around Christmas time.

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