Fraud Alert: Beware Check Washing Fraud

Dear Business Member,
We wanted to bring an important topic to your attention and let you know what we are doing to help mitigate the risk of fraud. We also have some helpful tips to help you avoid being a victim.
In recent months there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of check washing. Check washing is a type of fraud where criminals steal mail from unsuspecting victims (typically businesses) and then use acetone to remove the ink and then make the check payable to themselves. These altered checks are often difficult to spot given that the signature still matches the account on file, and only the amount and/or payee has changed. These checks are then typically cashed by the perpetrator in person at the institution from which the check is written. In most cases, the fraudster does not even have an account at the institution at which they are cashing the check.
Steps we are taking
To reduce the risk to you of being a victim of this crime, we are putting additional procedures in place.
If a non-member comes to a People’s Credit Union branch to cash one of your People’s checks, we are increasing the identification requirements, so we can make sure we are properly identifying the person cashing the check. And in some cases, if the check looks like it has been manipulated or is an amount greater than $1,000.00, we may call you to verify the legitimacy of the check.
What you can do
To reduce your risk of being a victim of this type of fraud, we suggest taking these precautions:
·     Do not mail bills in a residential mailbox- the red flag is an indicator to a thief that you have outgoing mail
·     Pick up books of checks at your local People’s Credit Union branch in lieu of having them shipped to your home
·     Shred cancelled checks
·     Check bank statements immediately upon receipt- ensure all checks negotiated have accurate payees
·     ALWAYS use black gel ink when writing checks – blue ballpoint is the easiest ink to remove from a check. Black gel will permeate the fibers of the check making it very difficult to alter
While we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, we feel these steps are warranted given the increase in the prevalence of this type of fraud. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest branch or our Member Service Center at 401-846-8930.
Thank you,
Your Team at People’s Credit Union 

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