Scam of the day – June 6, 2016 – Texas man sentenced for identity theft by stealing mail

Everyone is aware of the dangers of identity theft found on our computers, smartphones and other electronic devices, however, identity theft is a crime that is high tech, low tech and no tech as was shown recently by the conviction of David Burney in federal court in Texas on charges of stealing mail from mailboxes of unwary victims and using the stolen mail for purposes of identity theft. Burney would cruise residential streets looking for the mailboxes of people who had put their outgoing mail into their mailboxes and raised the red flag on the side of the mailboxes to alert the postal carrier to pick up the mail from the mailboxes.  In that mail Burney found letters containing checks by which his victims were paying their bills.  Unfortunately, it is a simple matter for someone who steals a check to have new checks printed using the account information and bank routing information contained on the check, which is what Burney did.  He then used the checks to buy electronics and gift cards which he used to turn into cash.

TIPS

The lesson to be learned here is that you are probably safer paying your bills online than by mail with a check.  Even if you put your mail into the large  U.S. Post Office mailboxes found on many street corners, you run the risk of those mailboxes being broken into and your checks stolen.  Certainly, putting your outgoing mail containing checks in your own mailbox is a risky way to pay your bills and puts you in serious danger of identity theft.  If you wish to mail your letters and bills containing checks, you should mail them directly from the Post Office.