Just a few years ago, experts predicted the extinction of old-fashioned checks. But they’ve never gone completely away.
Which means scammers are taking advantage.
According to a recent survey from the Association for Financial Professionals, checks continue to be the pay method most vulnerable to fraud.
There are a number of reasons, and foremost may be a surge in mail theft-related check-fraud schemes. The postal service reported more than 2,000 assaults on mail carriers, enabling fraudsters to steal mail from delivery trucks – or steal the master keys to USPS mail collection boxes. Jeff Taylor, head of Commercial Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank
Even though checks are used less in every-day transactions, the amount of fraud has exploded three-fold thanks to another old-fashioned source: the mail.
How is this happening?
“There are a number of reasons, and foremost may be a surge in mail theft-related check-fraud schemes,” said Jeff Taylor, head of Commercial Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank. “The postal service reported more than 2,000 assaults on mail carriers, enabling fraudsters to steal mail from delivery trucks – or steal the master keys to USPS mail collection boxes.”
More damaging, Taylor said, is the ability of scammers to “wash” checks by replacing the legitimate payee name and replaying it with a fraudulent one.
“That way, the checks can be altered and, ultimately, sold on the dark web,” Taylor added.
Tips to Prevent Mail Theft
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of mail theft fraud:
- Pick up your mail daily. Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
- Use the vacation hold option or ask a trusted friend to pick up your mail for you.
- Avoid placing mail in the blue USPS boxes after the last pickup of the day.
- Take your mail inside to your local US Post Office.
- Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery. This service emails images of mail scheduled to be delivered to you each day. To sign up go to https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm
- Convert payments to digital payment platforms.
“We believe that education is of the upmost importance when fighting the war against fraud,” Taylor said.
Victim of Mail Theft?
If you believe you are a victim of mail theft, report the incident to the Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 or https://www.uspis.gov/report. It’s also a good idea to report the mail theft to local law enforcement.
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The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.