Tuesday, November 26, 2013

4 Holiday Scams Every Notary should know

As we get into this holiday season, I hope everyone is in the spirit of brotherly love and great season cheer.  I  am also hoping everyone is bracing and properly preparing themselves for the new round of Holiday Scams.  I will highlight 4 Holiday Scams that seem to be making the rounds this year.

1)  FedEx / UPS follow-drop-pickup scam.  This scam was actually highlighted on the "Today Show" Tuesday, November 26, 2013.  This scam has a couple different ways it can be done.  It involves criminals following FedEx and UPS trucks in residential neighborhoods and watching for them to make drops at the front doors of homes.  When the driver leaves the criminals run over, pickup the packages and take off.  Notaries need to be aware that if they are receiving documents via FedEx or UPS at their home, which may be unoccupied at the time of delivery, criminals may be luring.  As an alternative you may want to have your packages delivered to a location that they can be received by an actual person.

2)  Checks in the mail scam.  During this time of year many of you, like me, send checks to love ones that are quite a distance away.  Sometimes we put those checks in the mailbox in front of our home and place the flag up telling our mail carrier to pick up this mail.  The problem with this is that it also sends a signal to criminals to intercept checks, gift cards or other items of value.  With checks, criminals can lift ink off (using things you can buy at any hardware store) and rewrite the check to themselves for a higher amount.  To ensure your packages arrive on time take them directly to the post office or hand them directly to your mail carrier.

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3)  Smash and Grab.  This is an interesting scam that can affect notaries directly.  This scam can also have several different variations.  This scam involves criminals targeting older people and women at shopping malls or retail stores.  Once the person gets out of their vehicle the criminals run up and grab their purse or wallet.  Not for money but to get access to the person's drivers license or state issued identification information.  Local news reports that these criminals have gone so far as to dress in a disguise as the victims and visit the victims bank to gain access to their accounts.  Sometimes trying to get Powers of Attorney notarized to gain access to the victims finances. 

There has also been cases where criminals will visit assisted living facilities and go from room to room looking for identification information to use to gain access to victims finances.  Notaries have to be very careful and take extra caution when notarizing any type of Power of Attorney Forms that could be linked to this criminal activity.

4)  Fast Food Doc Drop (I know the name is silly but....)  This is more of a crime of opportunity.  The reason why I put this one in is because I have recently been traveling and have heard two different title representatives from two different companies mention this same crime to me.  They said that notaries, after a closing, would go to a fast food restaurant with the docs and either leave them in plain site on their car seat or on a table in the restaurant, giving anyone access to them.  Criminals would see them and take quick pictures of the Loan Application and use that information to gain access to victims financial information.  I have personally witnessed notaries bringing docs to FedEx and UPS Stores to drop them off.  The notaries would then leave the docs on a table and go over to the other side of the store.  The docs would be left unattended for several minutes giving everyone access to them.  We all must be more diligent with security protocols in regards to the borrowers information.  

Do you know of any other holiday scams that other notaries should be aware of?  Please feel free to leave your comments...

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