Texas Checking Account Fraud on the Rise
San Antonio resident, Helen Guzman, found herself a victim of Texas checking account fraud when a check payment she sent through her mailbox never reached its recipient.
Upon hearing that the $50 check Guzman placed in her personal mailbox never reached the ambulance company it was intended for, she immediately called her bank. They said that they did, in fact, have the check but it was for the amount of $500 to an individual named “Carlos Reyes.”
Incidents of check washing are occurring more frequently in Texas, specifically in the San Antonio region, officials claim.
However, with a watchful eye and alternative approaches to sending out payments, Texas residents may be able to avoid Texas checking account fraud.
How Check Washing Occurs
The check washing operation is fairly simple, which is why victims easily fall into this kind of fraudulent activity.
It occurs when a homeowner places utility payments or other check payments in their home’s mailbox for pick-up by their postal worker. Thieves can easily identify which boxes have outgoing mail, by noting the box’s raised flag.
All thieves need to do is ensure no one is watching the crime in progress and sift through envelopes that they suspect have check payments enclosed. Thereafter, they erase the existing in on the check with a check washing solution and let the check dry. Once the check is dry, they simply rewrite the check in a higher amount and change the pay-to line in their favor.
According to Joanne Woodruff, Assistant D.A. of Bexar County, “They could take the checks out of the mailbox in the morning and have them washed, dried and cashed by noon.”
Despite the ease of this kind of check Texas residents can still keep fraud at bay with a vigilant eye, according to officials.
Ways to Keep Your Texas Checking Account Safe
The best way to prevent thieves from targeting your Texas checking account is to maintain safe practices when dealing with your obligatory payments.
Here are a few examples of how to protect yourself from check fraud:
- Make payments electronically: Many large and small Texas banks and credit unions offer online banking services these days. Take advantage of the extra security features of your financial institution, by setting up bill pay car payments, mortgages and more with their electronic system.
- Deliver mail directly to the post office: While this route isn’t the end-all for preventing check fraud, you can avoid making your Texas checking account an easy target for thieves by delivering your mail and payments directly to a post office branch.
- Use a secured mailbox: There are many anti-mail fraud mailboxes in the market that give homeowners the functionality of a traditional mailbox, with the added benefit of a lock and key. These usually go for $50-$100, but can be what prevents check washing thieves from making your checking account a victim of crime.