If you make an error while writing a check, how thoroughly are you shredding it when you toss it out? And in an era where some banks let you deposit checks just by taking a photo with your smartphone, what are you doing with those pieces of paper after the money has cleared?
A couple in California are accused of piecing together ripped-up checks stolen from the trash at a self-storage facility. Rather than just take those taped-together checks to a bank, where they would likely be caught, they used the account and routing numbers on the checks to create counterfeit checks for their own use.
Police say at least 20 people were taken for a total of $16,000 by the scammers, who cashed the bogus checks all around Southern California.
The pair have been charged with 45 felony counts of identity theft, forgery, burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property, among other charges.
While we’re obviously glad these people were eventually nabbed, they wouldn’t have been able to create these fraudulent checks if the people that had thrown them out had disposed of them properly in the first place.
If you don’t have a proper shredder that will render the documents useless, we recommend that whenever you cut up a check, be sure that the account and routing numbers have been obscured. It also doesn’t hurt if the remnants of the cut-up check are spread out over different bags of trash.
Overkill? Perhaps, but we bet that the victims of this crime are wishing that the folks who disposed of their checks had gone the extra mile.