Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, along with Committee members Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sent a letter Wednesday to the American Bankers Association (ABA) expressing concerns regarding increasing check fraud scams, which cost consumers over $800 million last year.
“Check washing has become an elaborate and organized method of successfully scamming consumers and banks,” wrote the Senators. “In light of the many concerns raised by consumers, we are concerned by banks’ inability to effectively identify washed and other types of fraudulently-altered checks, timely process claims, and reimburse those that have lost thousands of dollars. Consumers should not be left waiting for their accounts to be made whole again. It is the responsibility of banks to properly address these concerns and to reimburse consumers in a timely manner.”
Check washing is a form of fraud involving criminals using various chemical solutions to remove the ink from written checks. The goal is for them to be able to write in new payee information, new dollar amounts, and usually their own false signature in order to steal from victims. This type of financial scandal can leave people feeling violated as well as financially crippled by the losses suffered. Many financial institutions have taken measures such as special checks with embedded graphics and colors that make it difficult for check washers to replicate without significant training and specialized equipment.
A copy of the letter is available here.
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