Foxboro police cruisers (copy)

Foxboro Police cruisers.

Police in Foxboro and U.S. postal inspectors are investigating instances of check fraud related to “mailbox fishing.”

Mailbox fishing is a term to describe a crime in which thieves use makeshift devices to “fish” out letters in the hope of obtaining checks, money orders, gift cards or any type of personal or financial information from collection boxes, according to police.

Thieves target stand-alone U.S. postal collection boxes and use chemicals to alter the information on documents they obtain from the mail so they can cash the checks or money orders.

The most effective way to protect yourself against this type of activity, according to police, is to deposit mail into the deposit boxes or bins inside the post office.

Police say thieves prefer to target the mail collection boxes during the nighttime hours, so it may also be best to avoid depositing mail into them during off hours, police said.

People should also scrutinize bank statements to be sure that personal checks you write are being cashed for the correct amount and by the appropriate person or institution.

Any residents who believe they may have been a victim should call their local police department or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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