Beware, mail fraud is on the rise

My husband and I became recent victims of check fraud.

Our story begins a month ago when I wrote a check out to a company who will be doing some work for us later this year. The contract required a 10% deposit at the time of booking.

I mailed it by depositing the check in a US Postal Service collection box, (those blue boxes you can find throughout our community.)

I clearly missed the CBS News report on theft issues that have prompted the USPS to advise Americans to avoid depositing mail in blue collection boxes or leaving it in their own unlocked mailboxes for a carrier to pick up. Instead, the agency is now recommending that patrons come inside their local post office to securely send mail.

If this is the case, I am not sure why the boxes still exist. In talking to friends, many of them tell me that the collection box they used to use is nailed or welded shut.

Of course, the one I deposited my envelope in was operational. 

The same day I mailed the check, I separately sent an email with the signed contract to the company, so they were aware the check would be forthcoming.

A week later, I emailed the company to see if they had received my check. They had not. I waited another few days, looked online and saw that the check had been cashed.

Feeling secure, I thought nothing more of it until the company contacted me to tell me they had not received my check.

My husband and I went back online to look at the endorsement on the check, and there was none. The company sent us a copy of how they endorse all their checks, so we felt confident they were not the depositors.

We immediately contacted our bank and were told they would research it and get back to us. I spoke to two different representatives that day. Almost two weeks went by with the only acknowledgement being that the check was cashed. 

I called again, explaining my concern that my bank cashed a check without an endorsement, and I believed I was due a refund (the check was almost $1,000.)

All my communications with the bank thus far have been telephone calls I initiated to the number on the back of my ATM card, or email messages sent through a secure portal.

My next communication from the bank came not from a secure portal, but from a person purporting to be from the compromised account services department of my bank.  It was not through the secure portal. I asked the representative to call me, and we talked about his recommendation to close our account and open a new one.

I jotted down the information he provided and called my husband to discuss the situation. My husband asked me how I knew the email was not from a nefarious source. It looked legitimate, but again I called the number on the back of my ATM card and spoke to a representative. Fortunately, he confirmed the person who sent the email was indeed their bank employee and I could communicate with him with confidence.

Our checking account has been frozen, a new account will be created, and we will need to inform our routine check payees of our new account information. We will also need to inform the bank of all outstanding checks so they can be sure they only pay those and not any fraudulent checks. New check books will be sent, and new ATM cards will be created.

I also needed to sign an affidavit, as did the payee, and I was asked to file a police report. What a pain in the neck.

My word of caution, especially for us old school folks who mail checks, take them inside the post office. 

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Categories: Elder ConcernsNumber of views: 304

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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