Bedford Police Warn Residents About Mailbox Fishing and Check Washing

February 1, 2024

Submitted by the Bedford Police Department:

Bedford residents and businesses have recently become victims of mail fraud and mailbox fishing. The Bedford Police suggests when mailing checks or sensitive papers do not drop your envelopes in an exterior mailbox. You should only deposit these items in a mailbox secured within the post office.

There have been several reports of mailbox fishing at various outside blue USPS mailboxes. The most prominent location is the drive-up mailbox located in the rear of the post office within the Bedford Marketplace.

The Bedford Police and the United States Postal Service are actively working to enhance security measures and raise awareness about mailbox fishing. Public collaboration is crucial in this effort, and citizens are urged to stay informed and share information within their communities. By fostering a sense of collective responsibility, we can create safer neighborhoods where mailbox fishing is less likely to occur.

In an age where digital communication dominates, traditional mail remains an essential means of communication for many individuals and businesses. However, the convenience of receiving and sending physical mail also comes with its share of risks.

Mailbox fishing is a method used by identity thieves to steal mail directly from a mailbox. Criminals employ various tools, such as sticky substances attached to strings or makeshift devices to fish out envelopes and packages. This illicit activity often goes unnoticed until victims realize that important documents, checks, or sensitive information have gone missing.

Check washing, on the other hand, is a type of fraud where criminals alter the details on a check to redirect funds to their own accounts. This can involve erasing the ink on a legitimate check and rewriting the payee and/or the amount, turning it into a fraudulent instrument.

Mailbox fishing and check washing can lead to serious consequences, including financial losses, identity theft, and compromised personal and business information. Victims may find themselves dealing with unauthorized transactions, damaged credit scores, and the time-consuming process of recovering stolen funds.

Prevention Measures

  1. Use a Locking Mailbox: Invest in a locking mailbox to add an extra layer of security. Locking mailboxes deter criminals from easily accessing your mail, reducing the risk of mailbox fishing.
  2. Retrieve Mail Promptly: Regularly check and retrieve your mail as soon as possible after it’s delivered. The longer mail sits in your mailbox, the greater the chance that it may become a target for thieves.
  3. Opt for Direct Deposit: Whenever possible, opt for direct deposit for paychecks and financial statements. This eliminates the need for paper checks, reducing the risk of check washing.
  4. Shred Sensitive Documents: Shred any documents containing personal information before disposing of them. This includes bills, bank statements, and other documents that identity thieves could use.
  5. Secure Outgoing Mail: When sending outgoing mail, especially those containing checks or sensitive information, drop them off inside the post office. Avoid leaving outgoing mail in an unsecured or outside mailbox.
  6. Use Gel Pens: When writing checks, use gel pens. The ink from gel pens soaks into the paper, making it more difficult for criminals to alter the information.
  7. Monitor Accounts Regularly: Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. Report any suspicious activity immediately to your financial institution.
  8. Educate Yourself and Others: As an extra layer of defense, individuals should consider signing up for the Informed Delivery Service offered by the USPS. This service allows residents to receive digital previews of their incoming mail, helping them detect any anomalies or missing items. Furthermore, it is essential to be cautious about sharing personal information online and to shred documents containing sensitive details before discarding them. By practicing these preventative measures, citizens can contribute to the collective effort in mitigating the risk of mailbox fishing and protecting their personal information. 

Mailbox fishing is a growing concern that demands our attention and collective action. As a responsible government agency, the Bedford Police Department encourages the public to stay informed, remain vigilant, and adopt the recommended protective measures to safeguard their mail and personal information. Together, everyone can create a resilient community that deters criminal activities and prioritize the security of our citizens’ sensitive data.

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