Identity theft can be high tech, low tech or no tech. Stealing mail from mailboxes for purposes of identity theft has been done by identity thieves for years. Numerous times over the last few years I have warned you about the danger of having your mail, such as credit card bills or bank statements stolen from your personal mailbox. In addition, many people put themselves in great danger of identity theft by putting their outgoing mail in their mailbox and put up the red flag to alert the mail carrier that there is mail to be picked up. Unfortunately, that is also an alert to identity thieves cruising the neighborhood of mail to be easily stolen. Recently Travis Rolle was sentenced in Michigan to almost five years in prison for masterminding a multi-state identity theft ring that stole credit card statements from the mail and used the stolen credit card numbers to buy gift cards.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft through your mailbox, you should make sure that it is securely locked so that it is not easily accessed by your friendly neighborhood identity thief and when it comes to outgoing mail, don’t put it in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up regardless of how convenient it may be to do so. In fact, identity thieves have been known to steal mail from the U.S. Postal Service mailboxes found on the corners of major streets so, in order to be safe, you should mail your outgoing mail at the post office. It may seem like this is being a bit excessive when it comes to protecting your mail, but remember, even paranoids have enemies.
Another way you can protect yourself from mail theft is to use the Informed Delivery Program which is a free service of the U.S. Postal Service that will send you an email each morning with images of the mail you will be receiving later that day. This service was first done on a pilot basis in 2014 in parts of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. and became available to everyone three years later. Criminals have even signed up for this service on behalf of their victims in order to be alerted as to when they should steal mail. While in order to set up an Informed Delivery account, you need to answer security questions, the information necessary to answer those questions can often be readily obtained online. The best way to prevent this from happening is to sign up yourself before a criminal does it pretending to be you. Here is the link to go to sign up.
It is also important to note that if you do sign up for the service, you should use a unique and complex password to prevent identity thieves from hacking your account to let them know when important mail that they can exploit for identity theft purposes will be arriving to your home.
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