Mail theft-related check fraud schemes
For years the use of paper checks has been significantly declining throughout the U.S. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Mail and the United States Postal Service have been increasingly targeted by criminals seeking to commit check fraud.
What happens with this form of fraud?
In mail theft-related check fraud schemes, criminals typically steal personal, business, or tax refund checks, or checks related to government assistance programs, like Social Security and unemployment benefits.
After they’ve stolen and cashed the checks, criminals may continue to exploit their victims using the personally identifiable information they got from the stolen mail. They may use this information for future schemes like credit card fraud.
How to prevent it
- Placing mail in a collection box? Deposit it as close to the pickup time as possible.
- Don’t raise the flag if you have outgoing mail in your mailbox.
- Retrieve your mail from your mailbox promptly.
- Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery. It’s free! With this service, the USPS emails you images of all the items being delivered to your home that day, so you’ll know if anything’s missing after it’s delivered.
- Going on vacation? Use the USPS Hold Mail service or have a neighbor collect your mail.
- Always monitor your bank accounts for unusual activity and report anything suspicious as soon as possible.
What to do if you may have been a victim
- Don’t wait!
- For U.S. mail items, promptly report your concerns online to the US Postal Inspection Service.
- You can also call: 1-877-876-2455 to make a report.
- To confirm that your item is missing, your post office may ask for tracking numbers or additional relevant information, so collect any information or documentation you can.
- Call us at: 1-800-296-8871 if you have concerns about protecting your account.
Criminals and fraudsters are happy to jump on an easy opportunity to make money at the expense of others. Protect yourself and take steps to lessen the likelihood that you’ll be targeted. If you suspect you’ve been a victim, report your concerns promptly. The USPS reports that there are over 1.7 million cases of mail theft daily. We can all help put a dent in that number.
What should I do if I think something is suspicious?
If something seems suspicious, like an email, phone call, text, or someone offering some type of service, the FTC recommends you “think critically”. Ask yourself three questions:
1. Who is the message from? Do I know them? Do I trust them? Am I positive they are who they say they are? Double-check: government imposters are active right now.
2. What do they want you to do? Are they trying to get you to act in some way? Do they want you to buy something, download something, or give up personal info?
3. What evidence supports their message? It’s a good idea to be extra vigilant and fact-check information with a few reliable, independent sources. If the information in the message doesn’t hold up or seem accurate, don’t engage.
During this uncertain time, we ask you to diligently monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and be on the lookout for scams. If you believe you’ve become a victim of a scam involving your account at the credit union, take immediate action:
- Call Members Cooperative Credit Union at: 1-800-296-8871 to place a fraud alert on your accounts.
- Report suspicious activity, whether related to your accounts at the credit union or otherwise, to the Federal Trade Commission.
To keep up with the latest scams, and what the FTC is doing, sign up to get Consumer Alerts.
Guard against cyber fraud
These precautions can help you avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited (spam) emails or texts.
- Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or text messages.
- Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as they may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders, and scan them for viruses if possible.
- Before opening a link in an email, check to see where it’s directing you to. Make sure the link matches the destination and directs to a legitimate site.
- Instead of following a link in an unsolicited email, log in to the company’s official website directly from your web browser.
- If you’re unsure whether an email is genuine, use another method of communication to contact the apparent sender directly and ask. Do not reply to the email.
- If you’re told there’s an emergency or are pressured to act quickly, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to respond.
- Verify requests for personal information by contacting the company directly through their publicly posted contact methods. Don’t rely on any contact details provided in the request itself.
How to protect your Members debit card from fraud and unauthorized transactions:
Click here for more information.
Watch our Identity Theft Prevention video
My identity has been stolen. What should I do?
If you’re a victim of identity theft, take action immediately to limit the damage and protect your good name:
1. Download this free Identity Theft Emergency Repair Kit (PDF). It provides step-by-step instructions along with the necessary forms to help restore your identity. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this PDF document.
2. Contact Members Cooperative Credit Union and any related vendors immediately. Close any accounts that may have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
3. Place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three major credit bureaus. Also request to review your credit report for suspicious activity. You can request a free copy of your credit report from each bureau once per year at annualcreditreport.com. Additional copies are available for a fee.
4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
5. File a report with local police.