You can always trust the scammers to come up with new and creative ways to separate us from our money. You’re likely familiar with phone fraud and email phishing, but do you know about “mail fishing?”
Mail fishing is when criminals lower contraptions in your mailbox to “fish” out your check, gift card or package, just like they would in a body of water. In many cases, the crooks will even use fishing line or a string that has been caked with adhesive.
‘Snail mail fishing’ is on the rise — here’s how to avoid becoming a victim
There have been “several complaints” of checks fished from mailboxes in New York City’s Queens borough, according to QNS.com.
An elderly woman in Manhattan put a check made out for $112 in a blue mailbox on the Upper West Side, according to USA Today. It never made it to its destination. To make matters worse, the perpetrator modified the check so that it was made out for $3,500.
“I pay all my bills by mail — around 30 checks a month,” Josefina Gomez Pando, 83, told USA Today. “This never happened to me.” Her bank was able to stop the check, but many more are falling victim to this fast-growing crime.
Mail fishing has “doubled over the last two years, at least,” Lt. John Grimpel, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department, was quoted by USA Today as saying.
To head off criminals that would use our mailboxes as ponds stocked with our hard-earned money, we need to take a few precautionary measures:
- “Use mailboxes off the beaten path.” That sound advice was recently tweeted by the NYPD’s 11th Precinct to help would-be victims.
- Track your mail: The U.S. Postal Service provides a number of tracking options, including Informed Delivery, where you can get a preview of mail that’s coming to you.
- Deposit your mail early in the day: Because of the prevalence of crime, you may be in the habit of dropping off your mail after-hours or even overnight. That’s a bad idea. Thieves thrive at night. Drop your mail off early so a postal worker can pick it up before the end of the day.
- Drop your mail close to the pick-up time: This gives criminals less time to intercept it.
- Take your mail inside the post office: Leave nothing to chance by going inside the post office and hand-delivering your mail to the clerk or putting it inside a slot on the interior of the building.