HR Police issue bogus check alert

High quality reproductions have tricked local businesses

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.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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