Several hundred postal workers have had pay stolen by cyber-criminals who used fraudulent websites to obtain sensitive personal data that was used to divert and steal direct deposit payments.
The thefts mainly occurred during Pay Period 26 of 2022 but continued into Pay Period 1 of 2023. The thefts led the Postal Service to shut down employee apps on LiteBlue and through PostalEase on any computer or device not connected to an internal Postal Service Intranet network.
While many workers have been able to recover money that has been recovered from banks, Postal Service management has taken the position that any unrecovered loss of pay as a result of the fraud is the fault of postal workers.
However, management was aware of the risk of cyber fraud but did not send warnings to employees. It is also known that the Postal Service was aware of security threats to the LiteBlue application because they had been working on the creation and implementation of a Multifactor Authentication (MFA) process since mid-2022, but did not inform the APWU of this until the last week of November 2022.
The banking industry and secure websites have been utilizing MFA processes for years because of the everyday security threats on the internet. Yet the Postal Service chose not to implement these processes until just this week, when a Stand-Up Talk was issued on January17.
Although not every APWU represented employee has had their pay stolen, we understand that anyone who has lost money has been affected deeply, and these issues must be addressed by the Postal Service immediately.
APWU President, Mark Dimondstein, said: “It appears that the number of affected people is not huge, but a paycheck is a family’s lifeline and not one single worker should be left without money as a result of this attack.”
“The criminals behind this attack are to blame, but postal management must also take its share of the responsibility,” said Charlie Cash, APWU Industrial Relations Director. “It is clear that Postal management knew for a long time that LiteBlue had this security risk by they made no serious attempt to warn workers or upgrade security until it was too late for hundreds of workers.”
TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS IF YOUR DIRECT DEPOSIT HAS BEEN STOLEN:
- Call the Accounting Service Center to report the fraud at 1-866-974-2733
- Report the loss to the USPS Cybersafe unit at email@example.com
- Call the Human Resources Shared Service Center (HRSSC) at 1-877-477-3273 and either change the direct deposit information or cancel it entirely
- Request a pay advance, but note the advance will more than likely be denied as the Postal Service takes the position that due to employee negligence, no advance is owed. A grievance can be filed on the denial of the advance at this point
- The employee can file a PS Form 2146. The PS form 2146 is a claim for employees lost personal property while on duty or while on postal premises. An employee’s pay is personal property and is connected to employment.
Once the claim has been submitted, the Postal Service must act on it. The Supervisor must complete their portion, send to the Area, and a decision must be rendered within 30-days of receipt at the Area Level.
Employee and local officers and stewards need to make sure the form is submitted to Area ASAP. If a negative decision is rendered, the denial should be appealed directly to arbitration.
There is no guarantee this will lead to the Postal Service paying the lost funds to the employee--this is only one possible action an employee can take on the issue and it is up to each employee whether or not to make such a claim.
If the Postal Service recovers the funds lost and returns them to the employee, each employee and union official must then evaluate any grievances or claims currently active and make a determination on the continued processing of such grievances or claims.