The Easton Police Department is urging residents to not place checks they have written in their mailboxes to avoid being scammed.

Police said there has been an increase in check washing scams, a crime which erases the details from an already completed check to allow it to be rewritten. Police said checks that end up being “washed” have been stolen from both residential and United States Postal Service mailboxes in Easton and throughout the state.

According to the United States Postal Inspection Service check washing scams involve changing the payee names and often the dollar amounts on checks and fraudulently depositing them. The checks are stolen from mailboxes and washed in chemicals to remove the ink. Some scammers will even use copiers or scanners to print fake copies of a check. Postal Inspectors recover more than $1 billion in counterfeit checks and money orders every year.

Police said the easiest way to avoid being scammed is to not put written checks in mailboxes.  A safer way is to either complete the transaction electronically. If that is not possible, mail the check from inside the post office.

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