This time of year, thieves are stealing from mailboxes
The season of giving should not involve gift-wrapping your sensitive information to thieves looking to use your credit for a little holiday shopping. And yet, that’s just what is happening across the country, as thieves are targeting unlocked mailboxes during the holidays to steal gift cards, checks and financial documents for identity theft, right out of your mailbox.
Many people don’t realize just how easy it is for a thief to casually walk up to your mailbox and grab the contents, and then use them to steal from you. Just think about what comes in the mail – convenience checks on credit cards, pre-approved credit card offers, gift cards, and sometimes even new credit cards or debit cards! The mailbox outside your home offers thieves a treasure trove, and mail theft is rampant this time of year.
What can you do to protect yourself? Take precautions when sending and receiving holiday mail and packages:
- Never send anything you wouldn’t want stolen from an unsecured mailbox – bring sensitive mail including checks or gift cards to a blue USPS mailbox or better yet, directly to the post office.
- Never send cash in the mail and when possible avoid sending gift cards – they’re the same as cash and they can’t be replaced.
- Don’t use your outgoing mail flag as it tells thieves there is mail to be stolen – your postal carrier will see outgoing mail when they deliver your incoming mail anyway.
- Request signature required delivery for packages.
- Use a security locking mailbox to protect your incoming mail and packages from the mail thieves – this is the surest way to prevent mail-identity theft.
If you don’t already have a locking security mailbox, now is the time to get one! This is a wise investment, because while the holidays are a prime time for mail theft, thieves actually target unlocked mailboxes year round to steal information for identity theft. (In fact, another peak time for mail-identity theft is April… tax time!)
Removing your mail promptly is no longer an adequate protection, since some thieves are so brazen they follow postal carriers in broad daylight to steal your mail. A secure locking mailbox is the first line of defense against ID theft. Just think, all those documents you diligently paper shredders and locking mailboxes before discarding to thwart dumpster divers… well most of them come in the mail!
When choosing a locking mailbox, select a strong and durable model to prevent mail theft and vandalism. A quality locked mailbox should be:
- Made of heavy gauge galvanized steel
- Designed to prevent fishing by hand
- Designed to prevent prying and leveraged entry
With the prevalence of mail-identity theft, a quality locking mailbox is a necessary investment to protect your privacy, and will provide peace of mind knowing your good name is safe.