Consumer Alert: Crooked check cashing scheme

While many of us bank online, millions of people, including small business owners, still send payments by checks through the mail.

There is a new wave of thieves stealing and forging checks in an elaborate scheme.

"The criminals out there have thought an over an abundance of getting a scam and it can't be, we've got to put a stop to it," said scam victim Donna Sundberg.

Sundberg says she felt violated after learning one of her company's checks for $40,000 was stolen.

"The check was in the mailbox at the vendors location and the mail was stolen, perhaps on a Saturday nobody around," said Sundberg.

Thousands of people have fallen victim to the same scam.

Postal inspectors say the elaborate and often intricate process is doing a lot of damage.

In fact, one suspect in a recent case had more than $800,000 worth of checks, impacting 177 victims.

"Found in our suspects' home were many numerous computers, high quality color printers and scanners, as well as magnetic bar code readers and scanners, these were made to make phony ID's and phony checks," said Michael Van de Putte, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Sundberg says her company is taking steps to see this doesn't happen again.

"We have put into place with our bank goals and fraud protection. Whenever I issue a check, I send it to our bank and if it's not on the list I send they call is this an issue?"

Postal inspectors say it is also important to always check your credit.

You are entitled to three different credit reports from three credit agencies.

"If something comes to you unbidden - be suspicious of that - that is the type of thing that usually hooks people in and costing them more in the long run."

In an effort to protect your identity and finances, postal inspectors also recommend you shred documents that contain personal information before you toss them in the trash.

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