Where Does Mail Theft Hit Hard?
With the plethora of corporate hacks, social networking scams and online threats putting your identity at risk, mail theft may seem quite tame at first glance. But with the impending holidays comes a surge in mail theft and a number of reasons to take proactive measures before a thief snatches your mail, and possibly your identity.
While yes, holiday mail theft is centered on packages, gift cards and cash — that’s not all these thieves are after. Your mail, particularly pre-approved credit card statements, bills and checks are filled with personally identifiable information (PII) that can be used to commit identity theft, check fraud and related identity crimes.
While the majority of identity theft victims don’t know how their PII was fraudulently obtained, two percent can confirm their identity theft incident was a result of mail theft.
Mail theft doesn’t just happen over the holidays; career crooks make a stable living from snatching letters, bill and junk mail. In one notable case, a long-time mail thief describes the success of mail theft in three simple words — “Mail is money.” So while these tips on how to prevent mail theft are especially effective during the holidays, they come in handy all year long.
5 Tips on How to Prevent Mail Theft:
1. Don’t send cash
Nailing down how to prevent mail theft starts with what you send and receive. Never send cash or gift cards, as they are next to impossible to reclaim and are particularly sought after this time of year. Opt for sending a secure check, preferably one protected by EZShield Check Fraud Protection, or an online payment rather than cash.
2. Never leave mail overnight
Make a daily routine out of collecting your mail — even if you aren’t necessarily expecting something. (Keep in mind: even a simple utility bill is valuable to an identity thief.) The more time you leave your mailbox full, the longer a scammer has to snatch it.
Better yet, be proactive and consider alternative delivery methods when placing online orders. A growing trend is to have holiday packages delivered to your place of work. You could also request packages be delivered to a trusted neighbor or choose to pick up packages at your local post office.
3. Keep junk mail at bay
I know what you’re thinking — you’re telling to me safeguard my junk mail? No way, I’d love if someone cleaned me out of those annoying letters! But the reality is that junk mail is some of the most PII-saturated information thieves can get their hands on.
Pre-approved credit card applications lie at the heart of the intricate relationship between mail theft and identity theft. With just your Social Security number, an identity thief can open a new line of credit in your name using these application forms.
Family members are most likely to commit this type of identity theft; however, with the help of the online black market, a scammer could redirect such offerings to their address and use previously purchased PII to complete the applications.
4. Change of address monitoring
Hand-in-hand with tip #3 is utilizing identity-monitoring services, such as change of address alerts. An unfamiliar address could signal a thief is trying to hide mail that may indicate new accounts associated with your name. Or they could simply siphon your mail to gather PII that can ultimately be used to commit identity theft.
Along with change of address monitoring, many identity protection programs include credit and Internet monitoring to protect from similar threats across the board.
5. Secure your mailbox
A secure mailbox or mail slot (one that locks and is made of metal), well-lit surroundings and a visible home surveillance system can create a triple threat against any unexpected guests who may be after your mail.
Remember, mail theft is a federal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If you believe you were a victim of mail theft, report the incident to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
So now that you know how to prevent mail theft, be sure to pass along these helpful tips to your friends and family. Have a story of mail theft you want to share? Leave it in the comments.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.