FROM CHECK WASHERS, CAR THIEVES, AND CATALYTIC CONVERTERS
Keeping finances safe is getting harder and harder. The bad guys are working overtime at destroying great finances. The good news is there are many solutions to these current problems. It starts with you and ends with you, as awareness is your best defense. The scams are getting more sophisticated on one hand, but easier for scammers on the other hand. Unfortunately, those who are potential victims are the ones making it easy for scammers.
It seems not a week goes by when I don’t read someone on the web somewhere who has lost everything to a scammer. That being everything from check washing to catalytic converter theft
and car theft.
Don’t make yourself a victim of an unknown scam, later finding yourself asking, “what is check washing?”. Other questions are, “what if my car is stolen and never found”? Then, there are the catalytic convertor questions, “How much catalytic converter cost, that would make someone steal it? Ordinary people experience these crimes daily, but most are preventable.
In our local city, the police said they have 12 catalytic converters taken a week. That is a lot, especially since most of the people experiencing the thefts are puzzled by the unknown. Victims constantly ask, “How much does a catalytic converter cost that would make someone steal it?”. There is insurance for car theft, but catalytic converters are in a different category. The money made from the sale of a used catalytic converter is very high.
This information comes partly from personal exposure to those who have directly experienced this mayhem. It is also from local and national news reports. There are many complaints from homeowners on our city forum who have experienced these crimes. There is a lot of publicity about check washing, but it still happens.
People who are victims still ask the question, “what is check washing”? as though it has never been publicized. I am here to say it is ok to tell your friends and relatives it’s alright to read and stay informed of issues that can protect your finances. Many people don’t read bad news because they think it is unpleasant. Well, here are examples of where you need to read the news.
WHAT IS CHECK WASHING?
Check washing should not be happening if everyone who writes checks and pays bills knew how it happened. When I go into these community forums many of the people there are still asking, “what is check washing”? They usually ask after they become a victim.
Check washing is when a billpayer writes a check and places it in a place where a criminal has access. The criminal uses a solution to wash all information from the check, except your signature. Then, he or she fills it in with a financial amount favorable to them. If they put a ridiculous amount in place of your previous amount on the check, sometimes the crime is picked up. If the amount is reasonable, the criminal can usually cash the check.
They use a fake ID that matches the name on the check. If the check is cashed under a camera, sometimes there is an arrest. If the amount is outrageous or not enough in the account the check will not be cashed. The bank normally calls the account holder. The other problem the account holder has is that the criminal has your personal information that can be used later.
Where are check cashing thieves getting their hands on checks that don’t belong to them? According to law enforcement, both local and national authorities, say there are a few key places. The easiest way is from a blue street mailbox overflowing with mail, on the street, or in front of the post office.
The criminal simply reaches their hand into the top of the blue mailbox and pulls out a stack of mail. Even though this has been widely reported, I still see mail brimming out of the mailbox regularly and people drive up and place their mail in an over-flowing mailbox. Another way is when homeowners leave mail in a box in front of their home for the mailman to pick it up and instead the check washer finds it first.
Checkwashing is in a criminals toolbox, know the scam, stay safeMsFinancialsavvy
Fishing for mail is when they place an object in the box and fish out the mail. Some blue mailboxes have been opened by a stolen key. There are homeowner or apartment community boxes where the back is completely broken off and all the mail is exposed and taken. The only sure way to protect yourself is by putting your mail in the mail slot at the post office or handing it to a postal worker.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CAR IS STOLEN AND NEVER FOUND?
What happens when your car is stolen is to report it to the police immediately. Since most car thefts are local, ride around for a few days and see if it is spotted. If it is spotted, call the authorities. What happens when your car is stolen and never found? If you have insurance for car theft, the car may be replaced, or the value will be replaced. Insurance for car theft usually includes full coverage car insurance.
Most states require liability insurance to cover the other driver when there is an accident, but that does not cover theft. Also, older usually cars don’t have full coverage since the amount to replace the car is too low. It is best to save up to cover another car that isn’t insurable with full coverage.
With newer models’ full coverage makes sense. If there is a car loan most banks will require full coverage. So, insurance for car theft depends on car insurance coverage.
WHY IS THERE SO MUCH CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT?
Drug addicts are getting increasingly desperate for drug money. This includes the theft of catalytic converters. When thieves take catalytic converters, they have already asked others, how much catalytic worth for cash. Because of the precious metals in catalytic converters, how much the catalytic converter worth runs rather high. Unfortunately, this is what makes it difficult to keep the car parts in your car.
HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE FROM COMMON THEFTS?
Instead of asking, “what is check washing”? Ask what you can do to protect your precious checks in the mail. Don’t use the blue mailboxes on the street or in front of the post office for mail. In the case of company checks and regular mail, retrieve home mail the same day.
Putting outgoing mail in the front home mailbox or multi-boxes at a home or apartment development can easily be accessed by criminals, avoid it. Use online banking if the computer has anti-malware for safety.
Use the inside of the post office mail slot if there is no online banking. Blue and black non-erasable gel ink can’t be washed, make a habit of using it. Review all bank statements and report inconsistencies to the bank immediately. Also, report to the post office and credit agencies. Bank accounts should be closed, some checks are getting through before the check-washing crime is detected.
If a car owner needs to know what happens if a car is stolen and never found, ask your insurance agency. You may qualify for full coverage. That usually covers insurance for car theft.
Avoiding catalytic convertor thefts is a lot more tricky than other thefts. If a car sits high, the thieves can get under the car easily and take the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter cost for replacement is high because of the precious metals. This makes it attractive to drug addicts desperate for drug money.
Keep cars in a garage, if possible, and park in well-lit areas or with motion detector lights. Park under a video monitor if possible. All of this will help deter catalytic converter thefts.
Stay informed of these theft possibilities, keep friends and family informed, and follow protocols for safety. There will be a loss of time, and loss of money to make things whole after these thefts. Lack of knowledge of these crimes seems to be the main problem, hence various questions above keep continuing to surface. Report fraud when it occurs to all appropriate agencies, including your bank and credit agencies.