St. Petersburg, Florida – 10 News has been warning customers for years about skimming devices attached to bank ATMs and gas station pumps. But we are now learning about a potential issue with stamp kiosks located at postal offices across the country.
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) –
Deputies are searching for suspects caught on camera in a credit and debit card fraud investigation involving the post office.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance photos Tuesday of suspects and people of interest in the case.
Deputies said surveillance cameras captured them making charges and withdrawals on other people’s accounts up to $500 at a time.
The investigation began last month after three people reported getting fraudulent charges on their accounts after buying stamps from self-service kiosks at post offices in Beaverton and Aloha.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A joint investigation between the US Post Office and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is underway over the possibility skimming devices were illegally placed on self-service stamp machines at two post offices.
Three customers who all used self-service postage machines in Beaverton and Aloha over the last five days reported large fraudulent withdrawals on their ATM cards.
Access to the machines is not difficult since they are all available after regular business hours inside unlocked lobbies.
The USPS Office of the Inspector General has released a report critical of the USPS’s implementation of self-service kiosks in post office lobbies. The OIG found that poor placement of the kiosks, and inadequate training for staff cost the USPS $24 million in potential savings:
Self-service kiosks (SSKs) are in about 2,300 post offices nationwide. The majority of the kiosks are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. SSKs enable customers to buy stamps and postal products and to process about 80 percent of those transactions normally handled by retail window
The U.S. Postal Service evaluates the effectiveness of an SSK by measuring the customer adoption percentage, which is the percentage of applicable transactions performed at an SSK instead of by a retail clerk.
Our objective was to assess the SSK initiative in customer service operations.
WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
Customers were not using SSKs as anticipated. As of June 30, 2013, the SSK performance rate was 26.11 percent, 8.9 percentage points below the fiscal year (FY) 2013 nationwide customer adoption percentage target of 35 percent. This occurred due to several factors, including inconsistent signage, positioning of some SSKs in partially obscured locations, and lobby assistants who were not always trained and used effectively to promote SSK usage. The Postal Service could eliminate over 249,877 customer service retail window workhours and save about $12 million annually if it improved SSK promotion and customer assistance on the use of SSKs.
WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:
We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, and the vice president, Channel Access, establish a national initiative to train additional lobby assistants, and assess SSK signage and placement. We also recommended deploying lobby assistants to promote and educate customers on SSK usage and eliminate 249,877 workhours to achieve cost savings of about $24 million over 2 years. Finally, we recommended evaluating industry best practices using SSKs and identifying any barriers to implementation.
So far, six people have turned to police after money began disappearing from their bank accounts, Salt Lake City police detective Cody Lougy said. Police traced the incursions back to a self-serve kiosk at the Kearns post office, 5495 S. 4015 West, between Dec. 12 and Dec. 18.
“The skimming device was able to read the cardholders’ or the victims’ account number, as well as their pin number,” Lougy said. “Once they have that information, the perpetrator is able to make a fake card, and he has been able to go to various ATMs throughout our city and withdraw money.”
Victims have lost up to $500 in a single withdrawal, Lougy said.
When the US Postal Service started getting rid of its antiquated, but popular stamp vending machines, it assured customers that they would be replaced by something much better. That something was the Automated Postal Center, a large kiosk style machine that includes a scale and a touchscreen for browsing and selecting options. Unfortunately, APCs have proven to be less than a resounding success. Some customers find them hard to figure out- and you can’t insert a few coins and get a stamp for your letter- they only accept credit cards, and they don’t sell single stamps. Most importantly, they’re expensive. As a result, the USPS has had to shift APCs from one location to another, trying to find locations where the big machines will pay for themselves.
So the postal service has come up with the perfect solution- rebranding! The USPS has become somewhat obsessive about the concept of “branding” in recent years, so it’s perhaps not a big surprise that when the agency asked its customers about APCs, it wasn’t to learn which features people wanted in a vending machine, but rather “what should we call it?”
The magical solution is the “Self-Service Ship and Mail Center”! It’s the same APC, but with a new color scheme (aka “branding”). According to the USPS News Link article reproduced below, “The new name is expected to create a newfound confidence in this self-service expanded shipping and mailing option that affords expanded access to postal products and services”.
The power of magical thinking!
In October, USPS will rebrand its familiar self-service kiosk with a new name. Formally called the Automated Postal Center (APC) the kiosk is now named the “Self-Service Ship and Mail Center.”
The new name is expected to create a newfound confidence in this self-service expanded shipping and mailing option that affords expanded access to postal products and services. Customers can shop at a time and location convenient to them.
Based on research and analysis, “Self-Service Ship and Mail Center” was selected by a large group of small business and residential customers as the name that best supports the kiosk and USPS brand.
Along with the new name, there also will be new signage that indicates the key products and services listed in the Postal Service’s new iconography. For customers who don’t understand or are unaware of the products and services available at these self-service kiosks, the iconography easily identifies them. And listing just the main services eliminates the visual clutter and nonessential information that might be confusing to customers.
All retail associates should educate their customers and promote the new Self-Service Ship and Mail Center. The new name, along with the revamped look, should persuade customers to use this shipping and mailing option as a quick and convenient way to conduct postal transactions.
Source: USPS NewsLink