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Your Trash Is Their Cash!

Several years ago the police in a major city were called to investigate "tons of checks" in a warehouse.

When they arrived on the scene, they found just that.

Inside an old printing area, long since closed down and abandoned, were rolls and rolls of printed checks.

They were supposed to have been destroyed, but the company went bankrupt and never bothered.

These checks from the trash, when researched, were found to have been involved nationwide in many major cases of check fraud over the last few years.

Their use caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in loss to financial institutions all over the United States.

In many parts of our country, trash from a financial institution is a product that can easily be sold by whoever is smart enough to pick it up.

What happens to your trash after you put it in plastic bags and put it on the curb outside your building?

How long does it sit there?

Do the trash men pick it up and load it into a compactor, or does it sit on the curb overnight, available to "trash shoppers", and disappear before the trash men arrive?

Take a look at what goes into your trash. Would it be valuable to anyone looking to "use" your institution?

Are there account numbers in there? Bank forms? Copies of signatures or checks? Copies of statements? Computer printouts containing information on customers? Carbons that can be easily read?

Do you have trash containers in your lobby where customers may discard valuable information?

Are these trash containers "one-way" with a cover on, so you can drop trash in but not take anything out without removing the cover?

All it takes to accomplish a fraud on your institution is a good account number, or information on your customers that is available through your records.

That information is "money in the bank" to swindlers and con artists.

Take a good look at the way you handle your trash. Make it harder on the crooks and con artists who find the information you throw out very valuable.

Your trash can be their cash!

?more on trash

Benjamin Civiletti used to be the United States Attorney General. He spoke at the Security and Risk Management Conference sponsored by the American Bankers Association in January and told this story?

It seems he got a call one day from a reporter from the Washington Post who wanted to know who "Pam" was. They knew that she lived in California and that he sent her $150 every month.

Mr. Civiletti, used to such questions because he was a high ranking government official, explained that Pam was his sister, that she was taking graduate work in California, and he, along with all other members of the family were helping her out until she finished her schooling.

"However," Mr. Civiletti continued, "I asked the reporter where he had gotten his information about my writing her checks, and about my personal business."

The response was enough to give all security officers nightmares!

It seems that a bag of trash had broken open in the area behind a major Washington, D.C. bank, and statements and copies of cancelled checks were flying all over the streets of Washington. They had information on forty other people in addition to Mr. Civiletti!

Our former U.S. Attorney General figured the institution was going to have enough grief from the other customers involved, so he did not even pursue the problem with the bank.

Would your customers be so understanding?

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2/90

First published on 02/01/1990

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