State Auditor Rob Sand today urged government entities, organizations, and individuals to be vigilant in monitoring accounts for potential check fraud linked to mail theft.

"This kind of crime is on the rise, fueled in part by the pandemic-related government assistance sent to businesses and individuals through the mail," said Sand. "And these aren't small-time crooks. These criminals are often part of a sophisticated network of counterfeiters and identity thieves rooted in organized crime."

According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), reports of check fraud filed by banks last year nearly doubled to 680,000 compared to 350,000 in 2021. The increase prompted FinCEN to issue an alert earlier this year in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

"They're going back to the old-school way of stealing checks out of mailboxes, washing the names off the front, putting different names on them, and then cashing the checks," said Tammy Simpson, President of the ACFE Des Moines Chapter. "These criminals can also use the information on stolen checks to steal your identity and create fake accounts."

The Auditor's Office is partnering with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and the ACFE Des Moines Chapter for International Fraud Awareness Week, created to draw attention to the latest forms of fraud and fraud prevention.

Organizations and individuals should consider the following measures to prevent mail-related check fraud:

  • Reconcile accounts regularly.
  • Use electronic forms of payment.
  • Collect mail from the mailbox in a timely manner.
  • Deliver mail to the post office.
  • Report suspected scams to your bank and the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Use a blue or black gel pen when writing checks.

Sand, Iowa's top taxpayer watchdog, encourages all Iowans to be fraud-fighting watchdogs in their workplaces and communities. To report the misuse of public funds or resources, email or call 515-281-5834. Additional information on fraud prevention can be found on the Auditor of State website, Facebook, and X, formerly known as Twitter.

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