When Barbra Page writes a check for her groceries this weekend, she will gladly show the clerk her driver’s license. Page doesn’t mind the inconvenience. “It’s much more of an inconvenience if someone has stolen your checkbook and cashed all your checks.”
That’s what happened to Page a year ago. Her checkbook and wallet were stolen from an athletic club locker. The woman who took it embarked on a remarkable spending spree, racking up $12,000 worth of goods. Page was amazed how many store owners cashed the woman’s forged checks without asking for ID.
As of Thursday, it wasn’t as easy for thieves to cash stolen checks at any of Spokane’s Albertsons, Rosauers, Super 1, Tidyman’s or Yoke’s Pac ‘N Save stores. Customers who now write checks for groceries will be asked to show current identification - a driver’s license, state or military ID cards or passports. The identification requirement is a collaborative effort between grocers and law enforcement. Estimates say that more than $1 million in stolen or fake checks are passed in the Spokane area each month.
“This is going to be a service for the community, for the stores, for law enforcement and for anyone who is law-abiding. The criminal is the only one who will lose out,” said Cheryl Graves, a detective with the Spokane Police Department’s fraud unit.
People who move to Spokane often comment on how store employees never ask for ID. In bigger cities, it has long been employed as a tool against check fraud. But Spokane holds tight to its small town roots. Unfortunately, as we grow so does our crime.
So some of the frustration you feel as you show your ID might be frustration that Spokane is changing. Our criminals are getting smarter. For instance, Page is a nurse. The woman who stole her wallet dressed as a nurse, stethoscope and all, walked into a bank and opened a checking account. People will steal your checkbook right out of a locker, a mailbox, a purse and then write rubber checks as fast, and as cleverly, as they can.
But, please, don’t take out your frustration on store clerks. Instead, help them do their jobs by having your ID ready. And we’d urge other businesses in Spokane and North Idaho to adopt the identification rule. If every store did, customers would soon get into the ID habit.
This habit will save everyone money and hassle. Except, of course, the frustrated check-forgers.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board