U.S. authorities are urging Americans not to mail checks if they don't absolutely need to. Reports from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said there were at least 680,000 complaints of check fraud last year, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said there were about 300,000 reports of mail theft in 2021.
Each of those numbers jumped by nearly double compared to the previous year.
U.S. postal authorities are urging people to try to avoid mailing checks when possible or try using secure locations to send mail, like directly at a post office.
While fake check scams are still something to be aware of, like depositing a check from someone you don't know or for more than is owed, authorities say this is a bit different.
Pandemic government relief checks were being targeted for months, and victims have had to wait longer to receive relief.
Despite a decline in the use of personal checks in favor of other methods of payment, U.S. authorities say check fraud cases have doubled in the last two years.
In some cases, reports say criminals use a technique known as "check washing," in which the thief steals a signed check from a post box and puts a larger sum on i,t making it out to a new recipient.
Experts say when possible, deliver checks in person or only drop them in the mail at a post office location and not in a post box on the street.
Authorities say sophisticated criminal operationsare at work counterfeiting checks, infiltrating post office distribution centers and creating fake IDs to deposit checks.
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