What to do if you experience fraud
Check Fraud has increasingly become a top scam affecting consumers and businesses throughout the country. Mail theft complaints increased by 161% from March 2020 to February 2021, according to the inspector general for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). While mail thefts start the way they always have—with criminals getting access to mailed envelopes—the internet has added a twist: Criminals can sell stolen materials such as mailbox keys and checks in online forums, increasing the financial rewards. USPS Postal workers reported 400% more thefts/robberies since 2019.
Check fraud can create additional stress for consumers and businesses to include:
- Closing bank accounts and opening new accounts
- Recovering the funds scammed from the account
- Cancelling/stopping checks
- Resetting payment settings (if the account has been closed)
How does it work?
Fraudsters alter checks to appear as though the checks are written to them. They attempt to cash or in some instances successfully cash the check at a financial institution (usually not the one on the listed on the check). The financial intuition that the check is presented too will process the check and potentially get an alert for further analysis.
How to avoid becoming a victim?
- Check a check register
- Monitor your accounts regularly
- Set up account alerts
- Report any suspicious transactions to your financial institutions as soon as possible
- Use electronic forms of payment instead of writing checks and mailing them
What should you do if you think you have been a victim of check fraud?
Speed is key here, the sooner you notice the fraudulent check and alert your bank, the better the chances of returning the item and getting your money back. Reporting the transaction is the key, the dollar amount may be small, however that is only the beginning of what could potentially be stolen.