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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The check is in the mail

Original Article

CBS news Los Angeles has an interesting story about identity theft. A church reported its bank account information was stolen and used to counterfeit checks of $1,100. Detectives traced the ID theft to an LA couple "where they found hundreds of bank account numbers, fictitious and stolen IDs, check manufacturing equipment, identity profiles and counterfeit checks, according to officials." In total this couple had stolen more than $16,000 from 20 victims.

How were the bank accounts stolen? The couple admitted to dumpster diving at a Self Storage company "and stealing hundreds of partially-shredded checks, which they reassembled to access the routing and bank account numbers. Detectives say they used the information to manufacture more than 30 counterfeit checks" which they used throughout the region.

When you dispose of a check be sure that the routing numbers at the bottom are unreadable. You might cover it with a permanent black marker or tear the numbers into tiny parts and dispose of the bits in different places.

When the US Embassy in Iran was taken over back in the 70's the US diplomats dutifully dumped all sensitive documents into a cross-cut shredder. The Iranian government collected the shredded bits and gave them to their best carpet weavers who pieced the documents back together again.

So even a good shredder won't help you if you dump the bits in one place and a determined thief wants to put them together again. Try cutting checks in two or more parts along the routing number and shredding each part separately into a different bag.


  1. This is why I compost my shreddies! See if they can put them back together when mixed with all kinds of kitchen goopy stuffs!

    1. Burning the shredded pieces completely is the only way that I know to destroy check materials. The'ink' used to make checks is actually toner from a laser printer. Using a sharpie only covers the characters to the naked eye, not to a magnetic reader!