At Call For Action, we frequently see new technology getting exploited in scams, but Call For Action Director Karen Stiles and our partners at TMJ4 in Milwaukee report on a scam that has been impacting consumers using a more old-fashioned item — Personal checks.  While fewer and fewer consumers use checks these days, many still use them to pay bills, make major purchases, and send funds to others.  TMJ4’s Call 4 Action report explains how checks can be intercepted or stolen, then altered and cashed for greater sums of money than you initially wrote.

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Even blank personal checks have sensitive information, like routing and account numbers, which could be exploited by scammers and criminals.  Here are some helpful tips to avoid being scammed with your own personal checks:

  • Keep your checks in a safe place.
  • Retain copies of the checks you write — This could serve as proof your check was manipulated.
  • When you do write checks, make sure you’re writing them to someone you trust, and that it will be handled securely until it is deposited.
  • Don’t leave extra space in the number box or line for amount — That could help prevent someone from altering or adding to those fields.
  • If you suspect someone has stolen and/or manipulated your check, contact your bank immediately.  You may be able to stop payment on the check.  You should also contact the person or company you sent the check to, as this may alert them to other missing checks and may help notify other victims.
  • Finally, as always, monitor your bank statements and immediately report any suspicious transactions.