In today's digital age, the latest cyber scams seem to grab all the headlines. Hardly a month goes by where we don't hear about a new spoofing or phishing scam that we need to be on the lookout for.
Recently however, an age-old swindle has recently been on the uptick. Bank check theft check is on the rise—with the help new technology.
According to recent report on NPR, mail-related check fraud has spiked and criminals are using the internet to sell the stolen checks online.
Criminals are increasingly targeting ubiquitous U.S.P.S. blue postal boxes, as well as personal mailboxes, to snag issued checks, wash them clean, and either cash the check themselves, or sell the washed checks over the dark web using social media platforms.
By dropping a sticky substrate material in the mailbox slot—literally “fishing" for mail—these criminals can quickly clean out a blue box and come way with dozens of checks from unsuspecting victims.
After removing the ink with nail polish remover, another old-fangled trick, the crooks simply alter the payee and amount information and can walk away with hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Fraudsters often opt to make counterfeit checks with the information on the check fished as well. All the information needed to produce a new check is already on the item fished from the mailbox. They simply forge the signature.
These criminals can also use personal information from the check to steal their victim's identities, which leads to even further problems for those impacted.
Generally speaking, banks and credit unions are very good about covering these losses for their members. But don't forget about the greater risk of identity theft that is also inherent in this type of fraud.
The best way not to fall victim is to avoid sending checks by mail when you can. If you do need to mail a check, opt to drop it directly in the mail collection bin inside the post office lobby.
Many financial institutions also offer customers the option to send money electronically—at no additional charge.
WPCU's Online and Mobile Bill Pay is one way to cut down on the number of checks you need to mail. It's a simple, secure, and time-saving way to take care of recurring bills. Just set up your payees and schedule one-time or recurring payments.
For more WPCU fraud and cybersecurity resources, visit