Scam of the day – June 14, 2013 – Mailbox identity theft

Recently there was a news story about David Lalima of Northampton, Massachusetts, who along with his wife Georgie Thomas became victims of identity theft when an identity thief was able to access their credit card account and run up charges of $20,000 before the victims became aware that someone had taken over their credit card.   Making things even more of a problem was the fact that Lalima and Thomas had their monthly credit card payment made automatically in full out of their bank account electronically.  Eventually, but with much difficulty they were able to straighten the problem out.  What the identity thief had done was intercept a monthly credit card bill of theirs sent to them in the mail.  This enabled the identity thief to not only get the number of the credit card to use as he or she wished, but also to change the address for the account by simply filling in the change of address section on the monthly bill.  This provided the identity thief with extra time to use the credit card before being discovered.

TIPS

Identity theft can be high, tech, low tech or no tech.  In this case, it was decidedly no tech.  Identity thieves will go through mailboxes at people’s homes and take out the credit card bills before the real credit card holder ever sees it.  If the credit card holder is not vigilant in tracking his or her monthly bills and noticing when a credit card bill is late, he or she could fall victim in the same manner as Lalima and Thomas did.  It is therefore important to keep your mailbox as secure as possible.  Also, some people will pay their credit card bill and other bills with paper checks which they then put in envelopes in put in their own mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up when he or she is delivering the mail.  This is a bad thing to do because identity thieves merely look for people’s mailboxes with the red flag up indicating their is mail for the mail carrier to pick up and go through the mail for credit card bills that they can convert into identity theft.  They also can copy checks found in the envelopes to make counterfeit checks and empty your bank account.  The best way to pay your bills is online.