It was only four days ago that I wrote about a Texas identity theft criminal who stole checks from residential mailboxes, however, although everything is usually said to be bigger in Texas, federal indictments brought against thirteen people in Wichita, Kansas by the U.S. Attorney for Kansas exposed an identity theft ring that was based on stealing mail that enabled the criminals to steal more than 3.5 million dollars. Unlike the Texas residential mailbox thief, the defendants in Kansas are alleged to have stolen mail not just from residential mailboxes, but also from blue postal collection boxes as well as mail rooms in and around Wichita. The defendants are alleged to have altered checks to make them payable to themselves as well as create counterfeit checks from the information on the stolen checks and then use the counterfeit checks to steal large sums of money. They also used personal information stolen from the mail to steal the identities of their victims and access their credit. According to prosecutors, this mail based crime spree has been going on since October of 2013.
Again, 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 blue postal collection boxes 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 an even more 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. This case also highlights that even if you don’t mail checks, but do mail letters or commercial communications containing personal information, that personal information can be used to make you a victim of identity theft so it is best to mail anything with personal information only inside the post office.