Dear Valued Customer,
We want to make you aware of an industry-wide escalation in check fraud. It’s hard to believe that this old-fashioned scheme is making a resurgence, but unfortunately that is the case. One of the most common tactics driving this check fraud pandemic is mail theft. Earlier this year the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (also known as FinCEN) issued a warning about a nationwide surge in mail theft-related check fraud schemes.
The most common methods employed by scammers to commit check fraud from stolen mail include:
Check altering. A scammer uses common household chemicals to erase and change the printed payee and dollar amount information from a stolen check.
Forging endorsements and engaging in identity theft. Criminals use the information from a stolen check, such as the name and address information, to steal someone’s identity. Fraudsters may attempt to open an account in the intended payee’s name, using counterfeit IDs, to attempt to negotiate the stolen item.
Counterfeit and duplicate checks. Criminals may simply take the routing and account information found at the bottom of the stolen check and create a counterfeit or duplicate check they attempt to negotiate.
We are acutely aware of the ramifications and disruption this potentially poses to your financial security. Considering this disturbing new trend, we want to share with you some best practices to minimize your exposure to check fraud:
- Pay items digitally. Reduce the number of checks you write by using electronic payment methods such as card and ACH. When sending money to family consider using P2P offerings such as Zelle, Venmo, etc.
- Reconcile accounts promptly. Use tools such as Online Banking and Mobile Banking to see items clearing your account, daily. Report any suspicious items to your bank, immediately.
- Create account activity alerts. Leverage online and mobile banking tools to establish notifications that can be sent to you by text or email, notifying you when items are posting to your account. This gives you quicker insight as to any suspicious items that may be trying to clear your account.
- Use mailboxes that are secure. If you need to send a check by mail, we recommend dropping the check off at the mailbox inside of the USPS facility. Avoid placing checks into mail collectors external to an actual USPS office.
- Keep your bank account information safe. Don’t share or post your bank account information anywhere publicly, and never share your account information with anyone with whom you did not initiate the communication. Do not allow websites to save your account and routing number information.
If you are not already doing so, we strongly encourage you to leverage these best practices to elevate the security of your account. Rest assured, your peace of mind remains our top priority, and we are unwavering in our commitment to provide you with best-in-class solutions to mitigate risk and safeguard your finances. With a little caution, know-how, and teamwork, we can effectively combat these criminals.
Thank you for your continued trust and partnership!