Reminder: Why sending cash through the mail is a bad idea

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A government agency has a new warning about something we’ve probably all been told is a no-no at some point: sending cash through the mail.

Recent troubling statistics have none other than the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warning people to cut it out. Here’s the latest warning on sending cash in the mail.

Sending cash in the mail? Here’s why that’s a bad idea

You may be thinking that nobody puts wads of cash in envelopes, but here’s what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says about recent trends regarding cash scammers:

  • In the last 12 months, scam victims have reported losing $41 million compared to $26 million in the previous 12-month period.
  • 25% of people 70 and older report sending cash to scammers.
  • Of those elderly victims, the median loss reported was $9,000.

Before you write these incidents off as simply something that exclusively happens to older people, Americans of all ages are going through what can best be described as “tech fatigue,” meaning they are resorting to decidedly low-tech means to get things done.

One popular short cut is shipping money, or sending cash in the mail. Many people think they can slip a $20 or $100 bill in a folded blank piece of paper and send it through the U.S. Postal Service.

Not only do they run the risk of having someone other than the intended recipient taking the cash, but there’s no paper trail to prove what was in the envelope.

Alternatives to sending cash in the mail

  • Send a check: When you mail a check, make sure you track it through the postal service, which can be done for a nominal fee. That way, you’ll know when it has arrived and you’ll have peace of mind.
  • Use an electronic payment app: PayPal, Venmo and CashApp are all viable ways to send money. Just make sure you have your security settings locked down.
  • Wire the money: A wire transfer is an alternative, but always know who you’re shipping money to.

How to stop criminals from stealing your mail

While you should definitely avoid sending money in the mail, criminals are keen on intercepting your incoming mail, as well. Money expert Clark Howard says mailbox crimes are on the rise these days. A major way to protect yourself is to get a locking mailbox.

A locking mailbox, Clark says in a recent podcast, “works great. I don’t have to worry about someone pilfering through my mail, which was a problem before I had a locking mailbox. They’re easy to install and there’s almost nothing to them except the ability to secure the mail that you’re receiving.”

Read more about Clark’s take on mail crimes on his podcast

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