Monday, March 10, 2003/lk
The Hood River Police Department is alerting business owners that several counterfeit travelers’ checks have been passed around the county in recent weeks.
Detective Andrew Rau said Thomas Cook Mastercard Travelers Checks should be scrutinized closely when passed over the counter. These “bogus” banknotes in $100 denominations have been used at area retail establishments in both Hood River and Cascade Locks and are high quality copies of the originals.
“Although the reproductions are extremely sophisticated, there are some safeguards built into the authentic checks that are extremely difficult to duplicate,” said Detective Andrew Rau.
He said the following steps can be taken to verify the validity of these checks:
* Watermarks are molded into the wet wood pulp by using a wire screen during the paper making process. Because they are not printed on the document, these marks cannot be imitated and are visible when held up to a light source. On a Mastercard check, a translucent image of a goddess in a white circle should be displayed.
* The engraved printing on the banknotes has a raised texture that can be felt with the fingertips.
* The paper used for printing checks is 100 percent durable cellulose that is not available commercially. It should have the crisp feel of new currency instead of a flimsy feel and/or glossy appearance that tears easily.
“It is advisable to treat travelers checks the same way that you treat a personal check. Request and record personal identification information on the back of the document in the event it comes back from the bank as fraudulent,” said Rau.
He said if a business owner believes a false check is being used for payment, that individual should discreetly notify police to avoid alerting the bearer and gain any identifying information. In addition, he said the companies issuing legitimate travelers checks can be reached for questions at the following hotline numbers 24 hours per day, 365 days a year: American Express 1-800-221-7282, Citicorp 1-800-645-6556, Interpayment 1-800-221-2426, Mastercard 1-800-223-9920, Thomas Cook 1-800-223-7373, Visa International 1-800-227-6811.