Locking Mailboxes: A Basic Way to Prevent Identity Theft
Monday through Saturday, most of us check our mailboxes without giving it a second thought. Our mail is delivered throughout the week, and we take our letters, advertisements, statements, and credit card offers out of the mailbox when we find time during the day or when we get home from work. Some of us forget to bring the mail in, letting it accumulate for several days until we remember that it’s there. Mail delivery is something that we are accustomed to and sometimes take for granted, and we seldom think about how we need to take precautions to protect ourselves from thieves that target mail left in our unlocked mailboxes.
Identity theft is a well-publicized problem in the United States, and the problem is growing very rapidly. When we think of identity theft, credit card thieves and computer hackers usually come to mind, but mail theft is actually the leading cause of identity theft in this country. The United States Post Office (USPS) delivers an average of 668 million pieces of mail every day, and much of this mail is left unattended in unlocked mailboxes for at least several hours, compromising mail security and inviting thieves to steal our mail.
Some of our mail includes personal information that mail thieves can easily use to steal our identity. Social security payment checks, boxes of new bank checks, health insurance cards, bank account statements, new credit cards and credit card applications all contain sensitive information that, if stolen by mail thieves, can lead to disastrous results.
Of course all mailboxes are the property of the USPS, and tampering with any mailbox that is not used for the delivery of your own mail is a federal crime. Unfortunately, this federal law does not always ensure mail security. Mail thieves, sometimes working in mail theft rings, target unlocked mailboxes of both residences and businesses. Cluster mailboxes, which are most often used in apartment and business complexes, are a favorite of mail thieves because they are able to take mail from many mailboxes in a short amount of time. Standard residential mailboxes are also targeted, especially in neighborhoods with little daytime activity.
The USPS has organized a special department to monitor the increasing problem of mail theft and fraud. This department, The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), investigates issues related to mail fraud and theft. The USPIS averages about 6,000 arrests for mail theft each year. More information about the USPIS can be found here.
From our perspective, a locking mailbox is one of the simplest ways you can deter mail theft activity. It may seem very basic, but in today’s age, “Basic Works.” With a locking mailbox, you will be able to ensure mail security and not worry about leaving your mail outside for extended periods of time or receiving pieces of mail that contain private and sensitive information. The postal carrier can place your mail through the slot of your locking mailbox, but the mail can only be taken out by unlocking the mailbox. Our Mailboss product line is an excellent and secure choice for many types and styles of mailboxes, bringing peace of mind and safety to residence and business owners.