You probably heard that certain crimes – namely ransomware – increased during the pandemic. It looks like mail theft may have increased, too.

According to NBC News, although postal inspectors don’t have a reliable system for tracking crime, there’s at least anecdotal evidence that mail theft has increased in parts of the country. Jack Huster, a post office supervisor in Federal Way, Washington, says that the region’s mail theft problem has “accelerated to the point where it’s insane now.”

Data from the Postal Inspection Service shows that reports of mail theft have increased 600% between 2017 and 2020. However, NBC says due to the way the reporting system works, these complaints may include other issues, such a mailbox vandalism and mail delivery issues. Nevertheless, the takeaway is clear: mail service may not be as secure as many people would expect, and problems are on the rise.

Identity Theft and Check Fraud Are Climbing, Too

Lost or stolen mail can be a nuisance at best. In a worst-case scenario, it can also set a person up to become a victim of identity theft and check fraud.

According to NPR, the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia State University says that mail-related check fraud is increasing. Criminals have been known to steal mail from home mailboxes as well as blue boxes, which they access by stealing keys.

The problem may be spiraling out of control. NPR says that in October, 1,325 stolen checks were put up for sale each week on average. That’s about double the number of stolen checks for sale in September and triple the number of stolen checks for sale in August.

Remote Work May Be Adding to the Problem

There are a lot of things to praise about remote work, but it’s impossible to overlook the potential security issues. People who work from home might have poor cybersecurity habits, and this is one reason why the remote work trend has been linked to the rise in ransomware.

But remote work security risks might not be limited to digital attacks. If mail is allowed to pile up because workers aren’t going to the office as often, the risk of mail theft and check fraud may increase. There’s also a risk of mail getting lost or mail processing being delayed.

Take a Good Look at Your Premium Processing Practices

As the recipient of many checks, you need to make sure that mail is kept as secure as possible. Ask the following questions:

  • Is incoming mail stored securely? Good security is important to keep checks safe from thieves.
  • Is incoming mail processed promptly? Even if nothing has actually gone wrong, delays may make your customers worry that their check has been lost or stolen. Processing delays can also make it more difficult you and your customers realize a check is missing.
  • Do you have a system to turn physical paper mail into digital artifacts? Although some of your customers may still send paper checks, most transactions are completed digitally these days. Having a digital copy of physical mail can make it easier to keep track of accounts, and that can help you resolve problems faster. This is especially important when members of your team are working remotely and therefore don’t have access to physical files.

Lock Box Services to the Rescue

Mail theft and check fraud should not be a side effect of doing business remotely.

Lock box services provide an easy, secure and compliant way to collect and process premium payments and other incoming mail. Whether your team is working in the office or from home, you can count on lock box services to collect mail, process it and turn each piece into a digital artifact. This way, nothing slips through the cracks.

Want to see how lock box services can improve your insurance payment processing practices? Learn more about Covenir’s Premium Services and Virtual Mail Room.