In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, financial crimes are becoming more sophisticated than ever. Check fraud is a financial crime that can be devastating to individuals and businesses. It happens when a criminal obtains and uses a check without proper authorization, leading to unauthorized withdrawals or purchases. The United States Postal Service reported that complaints of mail theft doubled in 2021 and Banks report that check fraud jumped to 680,000 reports last year, up from 300,000 the year prior.
As we navigate through a world of online transactions, it’s important to stay vigilant and use advanced security measures.
In recent months, there has been a notable increase in digital check fraud cases. Criminals exploit vulnerabilities in online banking systems and mobile deposit services. Today’s advanced technology allows these scammers to create convincing counterfeit checks and manipulate digital images for unauthorized transactions.
Follow these tips from the United States Postal Inspection Service:
- Pick up mail promptly: Avoid leaving letters or packages in your mailbox or at your door for any length of time.
- Inquire about overdue mail: If you haven’t received a check, or any other sensitive mail, contact the sender as soon as possible.
- Don’t send cash or checks: Be mindful of what you send. Don’t risk sending any cash or checks in the mail. If you must mail a check, bring the envelope directly to the post office to hand deliver to an employee. Do not leave in any mailbox.
- Arrange for timely pickup: If you won’t be home to receive a package, make another arrangement or use the USPS Hold Mail Service.
- Use Hold for Pickup: When sending mail or packages, use the Hold for PickUp option and the recipient can receive the mail/package at their local post office.
- Request Signature confirmation: When mailing something with confidential information, such as a check, consider requesting Signature Confirmation for the recipient.
- File a change of address timely: If you move, make sure you change your address with the Post Office and let your financial institutions know in a timely manner.
Below are some tips for how you can keep your account(s) safe:
- Online Banking Security: Make sure you have strong and unique banking credentials using a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Lastly, enable multi-factor authentication for an extra layer of security for your online accounts.
- Secure connections: Always access your online banking credentials from secure and private networks.
- Biometric Authentication: Enable fingerprint or facial recognition authentication methods offered by your bank’s mobile app. These provide additional security behind your password.
- Enable Account Alerts: Turn on push notifications and text alerts for any activity on your accounts so if there are any suspicious or large transactions, you will be notified immediately.
- Email Phishing: Always think before you click any email, especially if the sender is unfamiliar to you or you were not expecting the email. Never send any wires to someone you do not know. Always check the email of the sender and spelling/grammar errors, since these are common with scammers looking for you to send money.
- Confirm check deposits: When you deposit a check using your Bank’s mobile app, confirm the clarity of the check image and verify all information matches the physical document. Keep the original check in a secure location for at least one week before destroying it.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you suspect you are a victim of check fraud, contact your Bank immediately.
For more information and tips on how to avoid fraud, visit our Cybersecurity Center.