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Routing: 302076017
Routing: 302076017
Routing: 302076017
Routing: 302076017

Mail Theft and How to Protect Yourself from Check Fraud

Experts are advising Americans to avoid sending checks in the mail and to take additional security measures when necessary to avoid becoming a victim of check fraud.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) received 680,000 reports of check fraud in 2022 while the United States Postal Inspection Service received 300,000 complaints of mail theft. These numbers doubled those of 2021 statistics.

While check usage is on the decline with the advancement of technology, the U.S. Postal Service has been increasingly targeted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as government relief checks became a prime confit for criminals.

Check fraud is no small operation – it consists of multiple people infiltrating post office distribution centers, establishing fake businesses, and creating fake IDs. “Walkers,” people who physically walk into financial institutions to cash stolen checks, are trained to appear as though they are conducting legitimate business.

Criminals fish mail out of postal boxes, looking for envelopes that may be bill payments or other checks being mailed. In most cases of check fraud, the criminal will use tactics to change the payee’s name and the amount of the check. Some use stolen checks to gather personal information which is then used to construct fake entities, open new accounts and lines of credit, and create new checks using the same account information that appears on the original (stolen) check.

To prevent falling victim to these schemes, Sooper Credit Union offers the following tips:

  1. Don’t use checks to pay bills. Use alternative means when possible, such as through electronic payment portals, online bill pay, ACH, or in-person with a debit/credit card.
  2. If you must mail a payment, do not put a check in your residential mailbox and raise the flag to notify the postman. Instead, drop mail off inside a post office.
  3. Invest in a secure mailbox requiring a key or passcode to open or a post office box.
  4. Pickup mail promptly. Do not leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door for any length of time.
  5. Request signature confirmation of receipt and inquire about any overdue mail.
  6. If traveling, inform your post office you’ll be out of town. They’ll hold your mail until you return.
  7. Immediately notify your post office and any companies you do business with if you change your address.

Visit uspis.gov (the United States Postal Inspection Service website) for more information on how to protect yourself from mail and package theft.

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