One probably thinks of mailboxes as nothing more than a receptacle for letters and packages, but identity thieves have a darker vision. To them, mailboxes look like unlocked safes filled with easily accessible personal information like social security numbers, health records, and account passwords that can all be used to steal your identity.
The possibility of one case of mail theft becoming a true issue may seem unlikely, but in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a few cases of mail theft led to the apprehension of a thief connected to hundreds of cases of mail theft and identity fraud around the country. Meanwhile, the Postal Inspection Service has found that mail theft cases have skyrocketed by 600% since 2017.
All this considered, it’s critical to educate oneself on how to keep the mail and identity safe, as well as what to do in the event one does become one of the nine million Americans who could face identity fraud.
Don’t leave mail unattended
Anticipate when the mail carrier will drive by and place outgoing mail in the box shortly before the arrival
To reduce the chance of becoming a victim of mail theft, avoid keeping mail in the mailbox for prolonged periods of time. Instead, familiarise oneself with what time the mail usually arrives and have a plan to bring it into the house shortly thereafter.
The same rules apply to sending mail. Anticipate when the mail carrier will drive by and place outgoing mail in the box shortly before he or she arrives. Additionally, do not use the outgoing mail flag, as it signals mail thieves of an easy steal.
Utilise the post office
If one is sending especially sensitive documents, deposit them in the letterbox at the local post office. Although mail thieves have been known to steal from post offices as well, the chances of theft are much lower since it is monitored by employees and contained in a locked box.
Keep an updated address
If one’s home address changes, remember to file for a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service and notify the financial institutions. This simple act will ensure that the mail arrives at one’s new house right away and avoids it getting into unwanted hands.
Take advantage of online platforms
Most online portals are a more secure alternative to leaving a paper trail of personal information
Instead of sending documents like bills through the mail, try taking care of them electronically. Almost all financial, healthcare and other institutions that require sensitive information provide the option to take care of documents and payments securely online.
Though there are online hackers and phishing schemes, most online portals are still a more secure alternative to leaving a paper trail of personal information.
Identify missing mail quickly
The USPS Informed Delivery service allows one to preview the incoming mail. Simply verifying that one actually received each piece of incoming mail and quickly reporting anything missing can go a long way in preventing identity theft.
Using Flock Safety's license plate reading cameras
Whether the mailbox is located at the end of the driveway or in the apartment lobby, Flock Safety's powerful, yet non-invasive, the camera system can help put a stop to chronic mail theft and identity fraud.
Time after time, communities and law enforcement agencies across the nation rely on Flock Safety to deliver objective evidence that can be transformed into actionable leads and deters suspicious activity. In cases of mail theft, neighbourhoods like Sundance in Beaumont, California have even reported seeing a decrease of cases from multiple times a week, to less than one per month.