Consumer Alert: Tipping with a check could cost you
Writing that check could cost you a lot more than you ever intended.
Next time you are about to write a personal check to tip someone, think again. Writing that check could cost you a lot more than you ever intended.
One woman shares her story of how she became a victim of the scam.
"I was really disappointed that it happened to me," says Maureen Webster, a fraud victim.
Webster still can't believe an identity thief stole thousands of dollars from her. She was the most frustrating part was that the thief was her newspaper delivery guy.
"In my mind, he was a nice hard working man," says Webster. "I never thought twice about tipping a newspaper delivery person with a personal check."
She will from now on.
"He decided to make some additional checks that looked like mine and he decided to welcome himself to all of the money in my bank account," says Webster.
Unfortunately, the story didn't end with fraudulent checks.
"They filed fraudulent tax returns for 2012. They filed fraudulent state income tax returns for 2012. They got into my Fidelity account and tried to take out $10,000," says Webster.
Webster wondered how the delivery guy was able to access all of her information.
"It amazes me that, somehow, all this information is in cyber space," says Webster. "With just a name and address he was able to find out all the information."
Webster was not alone. Postal inspectors say a ring of newspaper delivery guys stole millions of dollars from more than 400 victims.
"Add zeros where they shouldn't be added, cash checks on their accounts and then put in a change of address of the people getting the mail delivered to his house, get bank statements and enter into their bank accounts and engage in account takeovers," says Ryan Noonan, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
After a few months, the suspect was arrested.
"He wasn't hard to find," says Webster. "He was smart enough to figure out how to write checks out of peoples accounts, but he wasn't smart enough to not write his name and address. He basically led them right to him."
Postal inspectors want to remind you to check your bank statements to make sure the check amounts match. If you wrote a check for $30, make sure there's not a bank debit of $300 or $3,000 instead. If you bank online, you can check your accounts a lot more frequently than that once-a-month statement.
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