Have you ever sent a check that was cashed, but the recipient said it never arrived? You may be the victim of check washing. Check washing scams involve changing the payee names and often the dollar amounts on checks and fraudulently depositing them. Occasionally, these checks are stolen from mailboxes and washed in chemicals to remove the ink. Some scammers will even use copiers or scanners to print fake copies of a check. In fact, Postal Inspectors recover more than $1 billion in counterfeit checks and money orders every year, but you can take steps to protect yourself.
Over the last year, several break-ins to outside U.S. Postal Service mailboxes have been reported throughout the Chicagoland area. Offenders often use stolen mail to perpetrate identity theft and check forgeries with stolen documents. The Police Department asks anyone who learns of any unauthorized financial charges to alert their financial institution and place a fraud alert on their accounts. Also, be sure to file an identity theft report at the Police Department and contact the Postal Inspection Service at (877)876-2455.
The Police Department recommends residents use the interior lobby mail slot of the Post Office or hand sensitive mail directly to the postal employees inside for enhanced security.