Banks with dual-purpose cash and check scanners are better equipped to protect themselves from fraudulent transactions in the event of criminal activity. Parts of New York City have seen an influx of counterfeited checks in recent weeks, with thieves stealing checks for bill pay out of mailboxes and making them out to themselves.
Since the ongoing joke about millennials is that they don't know how to write a check, many people are surprised to know how many people still rely on paper checks to pay bills. Though most consumers do have a debit card that serves the same purpose as checks, many retail outlets that have credit cards don't accept debit card payments in the store or cash in the mail, and according to Marketplace.org, only 50 percent of Americans pay their bills online. Whether this is out of convenience or the fact that many consumers still aren't confident enough in cybersecurity to take their finances to the internet, this means there are a lot of checks being sent in the mail. Thieves in New York saw this as an opportunity.
According to Fox 5 New York, a group of people have been hitting mailboxes all over Queens and the Bronx to steal envelopes with the hopes that there are checks inside. Not only was this frustrating for businesses and credit card companies awaiting customers' bill payments, but also for customers who were getting late fees, despite having their checks in the mail well in advance and the amount disappearing from their checking accounts.
Thieves were doing this by using acetone to rub the recipient's name off of the check and replacing it with their own name or the name of someone else with a bank account that they had access to. In many cases, they even rubbed the check amount off, replacing it with a higher amount. While many banks recognized the checks as altered, some thieves have gotten away with this by cashing them at other establishments, like party stores. As of October 6, eight people have been arrested for the forgery.
This problem isn't limited to the New York area, either. Instances of stolen checks have popped up all over the country, which is why it's so important for financial institutions to invest in dual-purpose cash and check scanners, to maintain efficient operations and avoid having fraudulent checks pass through the business.
November 10, 2016