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Alert: Mail Theft-Related Check Fraud Surges

Posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Articles

We have been notified by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of a recent surge in check fraud. Criminals are stealing paper checks from the mail by targeting blue UPSP collection boxes and personal mailboxes.

Criminals use a check washing method to alter the stolen checks. They change the payee and often the dollar amount of the check. Then they use fraudulent identities to deposit checks and steal money from your account. In some cases, checks are also counterfeited using routing and account information from the original stolen check.

How to Protect Yourself

Keep a close eye on your account and verify that your checks are clearing properly. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

  • Consider using electronic or mobile payments
  • Use online or mobile banking to view your check images and ensure they were not altered
  • Use pens with indelible black ink so it’s more difficult to wash your checks
  • Don’t leave blank spaces in the payee or amount lines of checks you write
  • Regularly review your bank activity and statement for errors
  • If you receive paid checks back, shred – don’t trash them

If you must use the mail to send or receive paper checks, the United State Postal Inspection Services recommends that you:

  • Drop off mail in blue collection boxes before the last scheduled pick-up time or directly at your local Post Office.
  • Regularly check your mail. Do not leave your mail in your mailbox overnight.
  • If you’re heading out of town, have the Post Office hold your mail or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.

Check fraud is up 84% in one year and continues to climb. Be diligent about reviewing your account activity and notify us of any suspicious activity.

Click here to review additional fraud prevention tips to help protect your finances.

Sources: American Bankers Association | United States Postal Inspection Service

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