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Police issue warning on check and credit card fraud 

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The San Luis Obispo Police Department has experienced a noticeable increase in occurrences and arrests related to organized check and credit card fraud.


How check fraud is being committed

1. Suspects have homemade keys that allow them access into community mailboxes (or they merely force them open)
2. Suspects break into your vehicles looking for your identifications
3. Suspects steal YOUR mail, targeting items that have YOUR personal information (checks you are receiving, checks you are mailing)
4. Suspects use info for fraud; take your account info from checks you are mailing and generate new checks using readily accessible software that includes hundreds of legitimate check blanks for printing (Versa Check, Compu Check, ect.)
5. The Payer listed in the checks is the name of someone whose ID they have stolen OR (most frequently) their own name.
6. Suspects know if they keep the value under $950.00 per check, it is only a misdemeanor violation and they will not be incarcerated for any length of time.


Check fraud prevention tips

  • Don’t take checks if your small business cannot afford the loss. The checks being passed by suspects are genuine and NOT washed. They are printed with stolen information and in some cases they are printed on business checks.
  • The best bet is to scrutinize the identification being presented. Look at the photograph and compare it to person presenting the check. If you’re not comfortable accepting check, decline it.
  • Ensure the name and information on the check matches the identification being presented (name, address, phone number and driver license number). If items are missing from check, write them on it.
  • Create a policy for fund verification. Call the bank and verify funds for all checks over a set amount.

Breaking the check fraud cycle

  • Pay your bills with your online bank. It is free (in most cases) and is the safest way to pay bills.
  • Collect mail daily from your mailbox.
  • Take all outgoing mail directly to post office before the last collection time – Place mail in collection slots inside the post office, during business hours.

Credit card fraud prevention tips

  • If your business is not equipped with a chip reader, you are taking all of the risk when accepting credit cards.
  • All chip cards must have chip read by the device or your business takes the loss.
  • Any chipped card number that is read through a card swipe and not a chip read places the merchant at risk.
  • Do not manually enter a card number at the point of sale.

This is how suspects are bypassing chip readers

  • Suspects are embossing the front of the card with fraudulently obtained card information on a credit card platform with no physical chip.
  • They erase all info from the back magnetic strip on the card.
  • Suspect swipes card repeatedly but it does not get read by system (data erased)
  • There is no chip present on the card (but card number belongs to chipped credit card)
  • Employee provides “good customer service” and manually enters the credit card number into the system and gets an approval. Your business takes the loss.

These scenarios are real and are from current cases being investigated in San Luis Obispo.

If you have any information about this crime you are encouraged to call the San Luis Obispo Police Department at 805-781-7312 or Crime Stoppers at 805-549-STOP.

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