Lock It Up!
Americans are well aware of the financial dangers of identity theft. As a professional shredding company, we work hard to keep our clients’ sensitive papers and electronic data safe and secure from hackers and thieves. Even so, retailer and credit card databases are still occasionally compromised by sophisticated hackers who find and exploit even the smallest gaps in security.
Currently, the biggest gap in personal identity security isn’t on your computer – it’s in your mailbox. The U.S. Postal Service processes 600 million pieces of mail per day giving identity thieves 600 million opportunities to commit mail fraud. They steal sensitive and personal information directly from your own home.
Types of Mail Fraud
Two popular forms of mail fraud are re-routing and mail theft.
- Re-routing is accomplished by simply submitting a Change of Address form to the post office. Thieves collect addresses from phone books, trash, or simply by driving house to house and compiling lists. Once information is collected, re-routing mail to another location is as simple as submitting an easily accessible form. The post office does not require verification for address changes.
- The other form of mail fraud involves stealing pieces of mail via unlocked mailboxes. Identity thieves monitor incoming and outgoing mail for checks, bank statements, credit card offers, or any mail that appears to contain money, account numbers or confidential information. Tax time and holidays are the most active periods for this type of fraud.
Knowing When You’ve Been Victimized
It’s easiest to spot mail fraud if your mail has been re-routed (as it simply stops being delivered to your address). Still, it may take a few days for this type of fraud to become obvious. As with any type of identity theft, an incredible amount of damage can be done during a short period of time. Stolen mail is harder to detect. In residential areas, this crime is often one of opportunity and may happen only one time.
Criminals who target companies may implement sophisticated schemes in order to steal mail from multiple people over large periods of time. They payoff may be bigger and more difficult for the victim to uncover.
Being vigilant and using a lockable mailbox is one way to protect yourself. As with any sensitive information, consider protecting information about the location and access of your lockable mailbox. We help our clients with regular shredding, completely destroying information that could be used in a fraud situation.
Do you have a lockable mail box?