The Tompkins County Sheriff has seen an increase in the amount of fraudulent checks throughout Tompkins County.
The incident has occurred after checks have been stolen from mailboxes at residences throughout the county, most notably mailboxes that have their “red arrow” upwards indicating to the post office there is outgoing mail.
The incidents are referred to as “Check Washing” during the investigations. Check washing is when a stolen check is dipped into over-the-counter chemicals that are found in many stores to remove the desired ink from the checks. Thieves often remove all the ink from the check except the signature of the check writer. They will then write a new name and amount on the stolen check.
The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office is providing tips on what residents can do to avoid being a victim of this fraud. Those include: Dropping off any outgoing checks directly to the Post Office, Purchasing a “fraud prevention” pen from any store when writing checks, and when writing checks, make the letters bold and blocky using the majority of the space on the designated line. This makes the check more difficult to alternate.
Fraud prevention pens are designed for the ink to absorb into the check rather than roll ink on top of the check which check washing cannot remove.
A link to purchase recommended fraud prevention pens may be found on Amazon by searching for fraud prevention pens.