Not all scams and identity theft schemes are high tech. Identity theft schemes can be high tech, low tech or no tech and one of the lowest tech identity theft schemes that is having a bit of a resurgence is theft of mail from residential mailboxes and using the mail to make the mailbox owner a victim of identity theft. In many parts of the country people will leave outgoing mail in their mailbox and put the red flag up on the box to indicate to the mail carrier that there is mail in the mailbox to be picked up. This is convenient for the mailbox owner, but it is also convenient for identity thieves as well. Recently in Fort Collins, Colorado there have been reports of increased identity theft tied to thefts from the home mailbox of local residents. Sometimes the mail may contain checks being mailed out to pay bills. Identity thieves are able to use chemicals to remove the names of the person to whom the check is made and the amount of the check in order to make the check payable to the identity thief in a large amount. Other times, a sophisticated identity theft will take the bank account and bank routing information found in the bar codes on the checks to make forged checks that will also give them access to their victim’s account. Another type of mailbox fraud occurs when the identity thief steals your credit card bill and uses the information on the bill to charge items using your credit card. Often they will also write on your bill a change of address and send it back to the credit card company so that they may get a few months of use of your credit card before you notice that you have not been receiving a bill.
Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. This type of fraud is easy to accomplish, but it is also relatively easy to avoid. Do not put outgoing mail with any personal information or checks into your residential mailbox. Mail them from the post office. As for your incoming mail, consider having a lock on your mailbox so that it cannot be opened by someone without a key. These little steps can go far toward protecting you from identity theft.