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Protecting your checks from thieves

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Criminals are stealing checks from mailboxes at an alarming rate in Tulsa County. They use household chemicals to remove your ink from the check, then write in any amount they want and go shopping.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright gives us a demonstration of how it works and has simple ways you can avoid being a victim.

Most people fill out their checks with regular ballpoint pins, then put those checks and bills in their mailbox at the curb and put up the red flag. The problem is criminals often get there before the mailman. Those criminals throw away your bill, then, put your check into a liquid solution and wash away your ink. In 15 minutes, they can be spending your money. Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office investigator Jim Wolfe: "10 minutes to wash it and a minute or so to dry it and they're ready to head to the store."

Something as simple as changing your pen will help, use gel, not ballpoint or marker.

You can avoid criminals getting your check at all by not paying your bills by putting them in your own mailbox at the curb. Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz: "When you write a check and put it in your mailbox at your residence and raise the flag, what you're doing is telling thieves they can come get a check." Mail your bills at the post office instead.

Criminals get $813-million of our money a year in this country through check fraud. Tulsa County Sheriff’s Captain Fred Cotton: “One of the things they're doing is taking your bills from your mailboxes, you're sending them in and may not know they didn't arrive for 30 days."

Also, go pick up your new box of checks at the bank rather than have them mailed to your house, never leave checks in your car and hide them well at your house. One victim paid her health insurance premium and didn't know it had been stolen from her mailbox. She got sick, had a claim and they won't pay because they never received her payment.

Here's a good thing for stores to know, checks that have been washed, have blue dots on them, if they see that, they need to call police because it's probably a forgery.
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