You might want to think twice before mailing that check.
According to the U.S. government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, banks made 680,000 check fraud reports in 2022, up about 48.5% from 2021.
The U.S. Department of Treasury also estimates that between 2021 and 2022, check fraud increased by more than 80%.
“Check fraud has always been around but with COVID and stimulus checks, it is on the rise,” Carmen Million of the Better Business Bureau told local Baton Rouge outlet WAFB. “While it has never gone away, it is back with vengeance.”
Criminals are becoming more and more skilled at how to source checks to steal, experts warn.
The Associated Press reports that the crime starts with criminals fishing mail out of U.S. postal boxes, “looking for envelopes that appear to be either bill payments or checks being mailed.”
Though banks will usually reimburse those who have suffered from check fraud, the high increase in cases over the past two years has made it a more difficult (and timely) process.
The crimes have become so frequent that experts are telling people to avoid sending checks by mail, but if you absolutely must, there are safety measures that you can take to minimize your risk.
“If you need to mail a check, do not put a check in your residential mailbox and raise the flag to notify the postman. Drop off checks inside a post office if you have to,” Todd Robertson of Argo Data told AP.