Five Ways To Protect Your Identity Right Now
KTKS 12 – 9/29/11
(ABILENE, TEXAS) “Identity theft is nothing new, but financial identity theft is no longer the only kind of ID theft you may be at risk for these days.
As our world turns increasingly digital ID theft has taken on new identities. From financial or legal ID theft, to Social Security or even medical ID theft.
Rod Pruitt works with Region 14 Education Service Center and surrounding school districts to teach students and teachers how to stay safe online. He says the first place criminals may take your identity is your own mailbox. “That’s the biggest identity theft hole we have – someone driving up and taking mail out – so being aware of “I haven’t been billed for that and the mail you’re supposed to be getting – did you get it?’,” said Pruitt. Also, consider getting a mailbox with a lock. […]”
COMMENTS: YES! Mail theft is one of the easiest (and most common) ways thieves obtain your sensitive information for identity theft. Use a high security locking mailbox that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver to keep would-be identity thieves from easily stealing your personal information. Never send sensitive mail (checks or bill payments) from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure! And shred sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail!) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.
After police layoffs in San Jose, most crime, except burglary and mail theft, is down
San Jose Mercury News – 9/29/11
(SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA) “Fears that crime would become rampant after the July 1 layoff of 65 police officers have not materialized. While home burglaries and some mail thefts do appear to be up, the number of murders, which rose sharply in the first six months of this year, has actually dropped off. […]
As for the recent rash of mail burglaries, those are very serious crimes, he says. Such thievery is a federal and state felony. Dwyer says the department has six financial crime detectives to work on these offenses, which often result in stolen identities followed by shopping sprees where the thieves rack up thousands of dollars of purchases.
Since police are unable to be everywhere in the city at all times, it’s important that neighbors look out for each other, he adds. “It might seem simple, but one of the most effective preventions can be neighborhood watch,” he told the Resident. Another method is to own a locking mailbox. “A camera is only as good as the corroborating evidence, and there’s often little chance of getting fingerprints off dusty mailboxes.”
[…] Other areas have tried to put together watch teams but haven’t been as lucky. One area of the Shasta Hanchett neighborhood, for example, has been victimized by mail and package thefts, and local businesses have had merchandise stolen. […]
According to these area cameras, a business lost $10,000 worth of merchandise in four hours on a Saturday night, and a woman continues to steal outgoing mail as well as incoming mail. Neighbors believe it’s the same woman who applied for a $25,000 loan in Jerkovich’s name and has also applied for credit cards in others names with post office boxes for addresses.
The U.S. Postal Service began looking into the matter after neighborhood cameras showed the mail thefts, and the police are also looking into the retail robbery.”
COMMENTS: Mail theft is rampant in the San Jose area, and has been for some time. Given that most victims of mail theft may not even realize their mail has been stolen, the fact that mail theft numbers are up is even more alarming! Vigilance is key. Use a high security locking mailbox to protect incoming mail, and do not send sensitive mail like checks or bill payments from an unsecured mailbox.
Credit card stolen from man’s mailbox: Victim had over $3,000 charged in his name
WAVY 10 – 9/28/11
(PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA) “Surveillance footage from a local drug store gave police a look at the woman they believe stole a credit card from a Portsmouth resident’s mailbox.
According to police, between Aug. 10 and September 9 the suspect bought over $3,000 worth of goods using the stolen credit card.
The victim told officers that he ordered the credit card from Sear’s in early Aug. and when it failed to arrive in the mail he called the company.
He was advised at that time that the card had been issued to his address and was currently over its credit limit as a result of numerous purchases made. […]”
COMMENTS: It’s so easy for someone to steal your mail if you don’t have a locking security mailbox! This thief got “lucky” with a new credit card delivered… and the victim is paying for it now. So much sensitive information comes in the mail, it’s wise to use a secure mailbox to protect against identity theft. Also, never send sensitive mail (checks, bill payments, etc.) from an unlocked mailbox. Use online bill pay – it’s more secure!
(SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI) “A Springfield, MO woman was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for a bank fraud scheme that involved stealing checks from the mail and using stolen identities to pass them at local businesses. Rhiannon L. Green, 22, of Springfield, was charged in a 20-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield.
The indictment alleges that, between April 17 and Aug. 6, 2011, Green stole checks from business and residential mailboxes in the Springfield area. She allegedly altered the checks and forged the mail theft victims’ names then passed, or attempted to pass, the checks at local businesses to purchase electronic equipment such as computers and iPods. Green allegedly used counterfeit identification cards in the names of the mail theft victims in order to pass the forged checks and defraud the banks on which the checks were drawn. Green later returned the merchandise, the indictment says, for a cash “refund” of the purchase price.
According to the indictment, Green stole and forged at least 40 checks, resulting in a loss of at least $9,927. Green attempted to defraud the banks on which these forged checks were drawn by attempting to pass additional forged checks totaling at least $3,136.
COMMENTS: Criminals can find tons of sensitive information for check fraud and identity theft in residential and business mailboxes! People need to protect themselves – use a security locking mailbox to secure incoming mail, and never send checks or bill payments from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Most everyone knows to shred or burn sensitive documents before throwing them away, but don’t make the connection to the fact that these documents mostly come in the mailbox! It’s very easy for anyone to steal your mail, unless you take the necessary precautions!
Homeowners upset over stolen mail
WOAI 4 – 9/28/11
(SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS) “A community alert to tell you about in far South Bexar County. We’ve learned thieves are stealing outgoing mail like birthday cards and bills from homeowners.
Marlin Flint placed two bills in his mail box and both were taken.
“I never thought anybody would steal somebody’s mail, especially out here,” Flint told News 4 WOAI.
Flint lives on ten acres. His home sits in the back of the lot, just like many of his neighbors. He says it makes it easy for thieves to take mail without him knowing.
Flint and other neighbors are working with a postal inspector on the investigation. Already, some have spotted a suspicious car driving around the South Side community and reported it. […]
Meanwhile, homeowners who live off Highway 281 on Mogford Road say will take their outgoing mail to the post office until they catch the thieves.”
COMMENTS: Residents should always take sensitive outgoing mail to the post office or use online bill pay. Even if this thief is caught, mail theft is on the rise and your sensitive mail is not safe in an unsecured mailbox. Similarly, incoming mail contains tons of sensitive documents that can be used for identity theft. Use a secure locking mailbox to protect yourself!
Most victims of mail theft (especially with incoming mail) do not realize their mail has been stolen. People don’t know what they are expecting in the mail from day to day, so that’s why it’s so important to use a high security mailbox. You can find one at your local Ace Hardware.
Anderson man admits to identity theft
FOX Carolina – 9/27/11
(ANDERSON, SOUTH CAROLINA) “An Anderson man admitted to stealing the identities of several people Tuesday.
According to US District Attorney Bill Nettles, 29-year-old Adam Dyar pleaded guilty to possession of stolen and fraudulent identity documents.
Nettles said Dyar stole mail from local residents and created counterfeit checks using account numbers and other identifies from the letters and packages he obtained. He said Dyar admitted that he committed the crime to support his drug habit.
Dyar tried to cash about $5,000 worth of counterfeit checks before he was arrested, Nettles said. […]”
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the most common ways thieves obtain your personal information for identity fraud and identity theft. Most people do not realize when their mail has been stolen, as we don’t know from day to day what comes in the mail! But think about it – you may receive bank account statements, credit card offers, social security checks, medical bills and more! All of this can be used for check fraud and/or identity theft.
Protect yourself with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss (available in Anderson at White Jones Ace Hardware) to secure your incoming mail. In addition, never send checks or bill payments from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Of course always shred sensitive documents too (most of which come in the mail) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers!
Kennewick Police Find Suspected Mail Thief Hiding in Garage
KEPR 19 – 9/27/11
(KENNEWICK, WASHINGTON) “Tuesday at about 0550 hours Kennewick Police D Squad responded to the residence of 603 S. Washington St reference the report of a prowl in progress. […]
Officers located the suspect within in the garage and took him into custody. Also on scene, Police located mail from 1212 and 1208 S. Washington St that was determined to have been taken from those addresses.
The defendant was identified as Florentino Castillo, 32 years of age. Castillo had five felony arrest warrants and criminal street gang history. Castillo was booked in the Benton County Jail for Burglary 2nd Degree, Vehicle Prowl, two counts of mail theft, and the five felony warrants.”
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the most common ways thieves obtain your personal information for identity theft. Most victims do not even realize when their mail has been stolen! With the wealth of sensitive information in your mail – credit card offers, bank statements, social security checks and more – it is extremely important to use a security mailbox to prevent identity theft. In Kennewick, you can find the Mail Boss high security locking mailbox at Fred Meyer or Kennewick Ranch & Home.
Bronx man charged in DeWitt check scheme
ABC 9 – 9/27/11
(DeWITT, NEW YORK) “A Bronx man has been charged with stealing mail in DeWitt after being identified by an eye witness on Monday.
According to DeWitt Police, they were sent to the area of Thomas Road in DeWitt around 1 p.m. to investigate what they describe as a suspicious incident involving mail being removed from a mailbox. According to a witness performing work across the street, he noticed a vehicle being driven up and down the street repeatedly.
After a postal employee placed mail in the mailbox, the witness told police that the same vehicle stopped and a man got out of the vehicle to remove mail from the mailbox and then leave in the vehicle. […]
All four were taken to the Police Department where they were interviewed by US Postal Inspectors. Police recovered what appeared to be federal tax return checks addressed to several addresses in the town of DeWitt, but none of the documents were actually addressed to anyone residing at those addresses.
[…] Further investigation was turned over to the Internal Revenue Service and US Postal Inspectors.”
COMMENTS: When you think about the kinds of documents we receive in our mailboxes, it’s almost crazy to leave them unprotected! Tax return checks, credit card offers, bank account statements, and personal medicals – to name a few – offer a wealth of sensitive information for identity fraud and theft. To protect yourself against the fastest growing crime in the nation, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. In the DeWitt area, you can find the Mail Boss at Fradon Lock in Syracuse.
The Lilburn Police Blotter
Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch – 9/27/11
(LIBURN, GEORGA) “[…] Sept. 18: Theft from mail was reported on the 400 block of James Street. […]”
COMMENTS: Protect against mail theft with a high security locked mailbox like Mail Boss. Near Lilburn you can find the Mail Boss at Handy Ace Hardware.
Four Arrested in Alleged Mailbox Theft
St. Augustine News – 9/26/11
(ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA) “Four suspects are in custody in connection with a Hastings mailbox theft that occurred early Sunday morning.
According to St Johns County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer, Catherine Payne, a woman reported seeing a large truck damaging her mailbox Sunday and then taking it. Following an investigation, deputies arrested Zachary Bush, 21, William Neigger, Jr., 23, Philip Red Elk, 22 and John Tuthill, Jr. 21, all from Hastings were in the area of the reported theft, driving a teal GMC pick-up truck and ended up stuck in a ditch.
According to the incident report, deputies responding to the pick-up truck spotted the mailbox in question in the bed of the pick-up the four were riding in. Deputies also noticed additional mailboxes and a stop sign in the bed of the truck. […]”
COMMENTS: Mailboxes are frequently targeted by crooks, as they contain tons of sensitive personal information for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. No more worrying about collecting the mail promptly – trust your mail is safe in your secure mailbox until you retrieve it! In St. Augustine, you can find the Mail Boss locking security mailbox at Hagan Ace Hardware.
Needham Patch – 9/24/11
(NEEDHAM, MASSACHUSETTS) “Mail Stolen from Mailbox: A Needham resident reported that her mail was stolen from her mailbox sometime on Sept. 10 or 11. The woman said she was unsure what was in the mail but was advised to keep an eye on her credit and bank accounts, according to police reports. […]”
COMMENTS: Most victims of mail theft do not even realize when their mail has been stolen. Unfortunately, even if you do know something is off, it’s almost impossible to know exactly what is missing. For more information, read what to do if your mail is stolen.
Man Accused of Swiping Mail from Mailboxes
Oak Lawn Patch – 9/23/11
(OAK LAWN, ILLINOIS) On Sept. 21, Oak Lawn residents witnessed Michael Vickers Jr. driving down the wrong side of the road and stealing mail from residential mailboxes. The police were notified and Vickers was arrested.
COMMENTS: Kudos to vigilant residents for noticing this guy and contacting police! To protect yourself from mail theft, use a high security locking mailbox to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive outgoing mail from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office!
Woman accused of fraud gets four-year sentence
The Daily Times – 9/23/11
(SALISBURY, MARYLAND) In Maryland, Carla Koester was sentenced today for her role in a complex mail identity theft scheme that victimized over 26 individuals, with total losses exceeding $30,000. Koester and her husband stole checks and credit cards from residential mailboxes, and used stolen information to forge checks and commit identity theft. The victims lived across Maryland in Anne Arundel, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, and Wicomico counties, as well as in Delaware and Virginia.
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the most common ways thieves obtain sensitive information for identity theft. How they steal your mail may vary. Sometimes they simply snatch incoming or outgoing mail from your mailbox. Other times they’ll steal mail from your house or car. And of course we’ve all heard of dumpster diving – where criminals steal your discarded mail from the trash. The best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant with your mail. Use a high security locking mailbox to protect incoming mail. Never send outgoing mail from an unsecured mailbox – bring checks and bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. As always, shred or otherwise destroy sensitive documents (most of which come in the mailbox) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.
Crime Blotter – September 22
La Cañada Valley Sun – 9/23/11
(LA CAÑADA, CALIFORNIA) “[…] 4500 block of Palm Drive: A mail theft occurred between 4 p.m. on Sept. 14 and Sept. 15. The homeowner saw the mail in her mailbox but did not retrieve it. When she returned to do so the next day, it was gone.
[…] 300 block of Corona Drive: Mail was reported stolen, the second reported incident in the last two months, from a mailbox sometime between 4 p.m. on Aug. 29 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 14. The owner of the mailbox received confirmation from the postal service that a garage door opener she had ordered had been delivered on the 29th, but she never received it, along with other mail she had been expecting. The mailbox did not have a lock.”
COMMENTS: Since mail thefts are a recurring problem in the area, residents should be vigilant. Use a high security locking mailbox to prevent thieves from stealing incoming mail. They use sensitive information from your mail for identity theft. In addition do not send checks or bill payments from your unlocked mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.
Man arrested for mail theft
Middletown Journal – 9/22/11
(TRENTON, OHIO) Trenton police have arrested Donald Dozer in connection with mail thefts from the Delaware Crossing subdivision. Dozer was seen taking mail from residential mailboxes, and then discarding some of the mail into a trash. When police arrested Dozer, he had several pieces of stolen mail on him; they also recovered stolen mail in the nearby trash can. Police say there have been over 10 incidents of mail theft in Trenton since July.
COMMENTS: Mail theft is happening across the country and no where is safe. To protect yourself secure your incoming mail with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss! Ask for the Mail Boss by name at your local Ace Hardware.