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Diffusing mail fraud

With the threat of mail fraud increasing steadily in our communities, avoid becoming a victim by taking precautions and spotting the warning signs.

What is mail fraud?

Mail fraud happens when criminals take advantage of the mail system to concoct a scheme for financial gain. They often mis-represent themselves as being part of an organization like a charity or sweepstakes company by sending letters asking for donations or personal information. 

How can I tell if mail that I receive is legitimate?

There are three tell-tale signs shared by most fake letters that are indicators of fraud: a call to action, a sense of urgency, and most importantly, a reward.

A call to action is a request that the recipient DO something. For example, “Call now and you’ll receive…;” “Email me at [email protected];” or “Contact us to resolve this.”

Examples of a sense of urgency are “You must call immediately” or “If you don’t respond right away, there will be serious consequences.” Examples of rewards include “Just send $500 to this app and you’re guaranteed to win.”

Notifications of data breaches are another common example of mail fraud. A letter that is simply notifying you with no call to action poses no threat to the customer and is likely to be legitimate.

Bank statements are another resource used by fraudsters. Victims of identity theft often receive statements for accounts that they did not open, which should act to notify them that their identity has been compromised. Many of these statements get disregarded allowing the fraudster to continue to use the victim’s identity.

Can mail fraud affect correspondence that I mail, as well?

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service recovers more than $1 billion in fraudulent checks each year. If you mailed a check that was paid, but the recipient never received it, it might be stolen.

Fraudsters are targeting paper checks sent through the mail. Once they have a check that you mailed, they use chemicals to wash the check allowing them to change the amount or make themselves the payee. Simple check-writing techniques can help avoid check-washing, such as using indelible black ink; not leaving blank spaces when filling out a check; not writing personal details on checks; and using online and digital banking when possible.

Here are some tips to protect your mail:

  • Get your mail promptly after delivery.
  • Ask the post office to hold your mail when you’re out of town.
  • Use security envelopes to conceal the contents of your mail.
  • Use the mail slots inside your post office to send mail.

What should I do if I fall prey to mail fraud?

The best solution is to act quickly. Contact your bank and request copies of all fraudulent checks. Call the police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to report the crime.

Written by The FKCB Fraud Department

Post Category:

Posted On:

June 11, 2024

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