Believe it or not, most identity theft originates from mail theft. The U.S. Postal Service handles 668 million pieces of mail every day. The vast majority of it arrives intact, but thieves get to some of it before delivery. Last year alone, U.S. Postal Inspectors who investigated mail theft led to the arrest of over 6,000 theft suspects. Thieves steal mail from postal trucks, collection boxes, apartment mailbox panels, co-op mailing racks, and neighborhood delivery and collection box units. They want your checks, your credit card applications, your bank account statements. In a matter of seconds a thief can walk or drive up to your house, open your mailbox and walk or drive away with credit card statements, bank statements, and a number of other personal letters that have information about you and your family.
Even though Postal Inspectors are using a number of proven remedies to put a stop to the theft, locking your mailboxes have become a necessity in today’s world, and a good one can prevent your mail from being stolen and reduce the risk of identity theft.
Police and the US Postal Service say that “deterring mail thieves is as easy as locking outside mailboxes and warns to never leave bills in mailboxes for postal workers to pick up. Postal Inspectors term this “Red Flagging” and recommend that you always take outgoing mail to a Postal drop box or US Post Office. You lock your front door and your car, so why not lock your mailbox? Locking secure mailboxes come in many different types but not all of them are created equal. Poor quality locking mailboxes offer a little more than a moment’s annoyance to an experienced mail thief.
When choosing a locking mailbox, look for the following: Be sure you get one that will last, and that is made of solid weatherproof material. Are they all keyed individually, or are there just a few tumbler styles to choose from? Choose a security mailbox that is approved for use by the Postmaster general. Get a mailbox large enough for all of your mail; especially while away on vacation. Get one that will not need professional installation, unless you’re prepared to pay much more for it. Consider where you want the mail retrieval door. Some are located in the rear. Be sure all exposed lock surfaces are tamper and wrench proof. Is the construction welded together, or just pop-riveted?
There is no sure-fire way to prevent mail theft. Preventing such identity theft requires security products, especially a locking mailbox. Security products like the locking mailboxes are one giant step in the right direction when it comes to identity-theft protection. Below is a list of mail theft facts that mailtheft.org has provided:
- Postal Inspectors report that Identity/Mail Theft has become the #1 white-collar crime in the country.
- New reports indicate that mail theft is up 71% versus last year.
- According to U.S. Postal Inspectors, it takes a minimum of 44 months to recover from Identity Theft.
- One in three cases involving identity theft occurs via the mail.
- For the criminal, the mailbox is the gateway to financial fraud, and victims are left with empty bank accounts and shattered credit ratings.
- Parcel Packages are at their most vulnerable when left unattended on your doorstep. With Internet shoppers increasing daily, more and more parcel packages never find their rightful owner due to thieves who follow these trucks and grab packages left unattended.
- According to local Police Chiefs, mail theft is one of the nonviolent ways drug users use to support their drug habits when they steal your bank checks and credit card statements from your mailbox.
- A mail thief can get up to $1,000 per box for a box of reissued and/or new checks you receive through the mail. Think about the fact that each time you move you have to get new checks.
- Use a gel-pen when writing checks to protect them from being changed There have been reports of criminals chemically “washing” payee and amount information from checks and replacing with unauthorized payees and amounts (“cash” and “$10,000” perhaps). Apparently gel-pen ink is the only type immune to this attack.
- Mail theft has become so common that some states are considering legislation for stiffer penalties since current laws consider it only a misdemeanor theft.
- For the sophisticated criminals, mail can be extremely valuable. Stolen checks are chemically “washed” of their ink, so the thief can make out a new amount and a new payee.
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