I know, I know.. It’s Tuesday…. night. Let’s just say it’s been a busy week and leave it at that! We’ll get back on track for Mail Theft Monday (on Monday) next week. Hopefully. Any-who… here’s the latest and greatest in mail identity theft this week.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – 4/5/10
(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) “This post originally appeared on Wallyhood, the Wallingford, Seattle neighborhood blog. Visit us for more Wallingford news.
[…] We must stay vigilant. Michelle writes a warning on her Wandermom blog not leave checks in the outgoing mail:
I looked at the screen and felt the blood drain from my face and a ball of stress start to build in my stomach. What was that check for $795 that had just posted to my checking account? I knew I hadn’t written a check for that amount recently. I pulled up the check image and felt even more worried: I didn’t recognize the payee or the memo and although the signature looked like mine, there were obvious differences and the number 7 in the amount box was written in a style I’ve never used. What was going on? […]
Earlier in the week, I’d been rushing to work in the morning so I’d left the parking ticket payment in my mailbox with the handy-dandy flag raised to indicate to the mail carrier that there was a letter to be picked up. Well, it had been picked up alright, but not by the mail carrier.
Check swipers and wipers can change wipe names and amounts of the check you’ve signed and write in new amounts. Keep an eye out.”
COMMENTS: The Uni-Ball 207 is a pen with ink that is very difficult to wash. However, the best advice is to never send sensitive mail via your curbside mailbox. Pay online when possible and if necessary use a blue USPS box. Above all, it is super important to use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss or the Package Master to secure incoming mail, because most locking mailboxes can be fished or pried open. Identity theft is what they’re after when they steal incoming mail. It’s the fastest growing crime in the country (thanks to soaring methamphetamine abuse problems) and vigilance is key. So lock up your mailbox! Or else all that shredding your doing (what do you shred by the way? your mail!) is futile…
Crime Stoppers: Mail Theft
WBKO – 3/31/10
(BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY) “Bowling Green Police are investigating a theft of mail and we have surveillance video of the suspects. Bowling Green Police say back in November, 2009 someone stole checks and mail from a mailbox on Daphne Court in the Cumberland Ridge subdivision off Cumberland Trace Road.
The victim discovered the theft when a check was used at Wal-Mart in Elizabethtown. Surveillance video recorded two suspects forging a check and purchasing gift cards. The suspects are a black male and a white male.
Authorities are hoping someone recognizes the men. So if you know anything about this mail theft please call South Central Kentucky Crime Stoppers at 781-CLUE or toll-free at 866-842-CLUE. Or go to the Crime Stoppers story on our web-channel to get to their website. You could get up to $1,000 for your anonymous tip. […]”
COMMENTS: Mail identity theft is an epidemic across the country. More and more, thieves are able to steal checks (or worse, mail) from incoming or outgoing mail, wash them, and cash them at places like Wal Mart. It doesn’t look like Wal Mart’s lax policies are going to change any time soon, nor are these criminals going to stop targeting mailboxes. Therefore, homeowners need to get smart and start securing their mail. This means (1) use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail; (2) use the blue USPS boxes to send sensitive mail containing checks; and (3) shred all mail before discarding it. Following these three easy steps would go a long way in reducing your chances of becoming a victim of mail identity theft.
Flag up on your mailbox? Two arrested for stealing mail in Highland
News-Leader – 3/31/10
(HIGHLAND, ILLINOIS) “Highland police have arrested an East St. Louis pair for allegedly stealing the U.S. mail from the mailboxes of Highland residents. A Highland resident saw one of the suspects removing mail from his mailbox on Sunfish Drive and called police.
Police Chief Terry Bell said the man and woman are suspected of stealing mail all over the metro-east area, including Breese and Collinsville. “They would drive around town looking for mailboxes with the flags up,” Chief Bell said. “Usually this means someone is paying a bill, and there is a check inside.” Bell said the suspects would alter the checks to make it look like they were payable to them.
Highland resident Tim Lewis said he happened to be looking out his bedroom window when he saw a vehicle driven by a black male drive up to his mailbox. He said he grew suspicious after a few minutes and went out to check his mailbox. The mailbox’s flag was down and the mail was gone, though the postman had not yet made his rounds. Lewis notified police, and Highland police later arrested the pair.
The suspects were released into the custody of an U.S. Postal Service investigator. Investigators with the U.S. Postal Service did not immediately return inquiries for a comment about this case.
“I hope that this will put an end to this, not only here, but in these other communities too,” Lewis said. […]”
COMMENTS: It’s nice to dream, Lewis. But mail theft is not going away anytime soon. Theft of checks from outgoing mail is common, and residents should never leave sensitive mail in their unlocked curbside mailbox with the flag up. It is a signal to thieves that there is loot inside. It is just as (if not more) important to secure incoming mail, where thieves can find everything they need (bills, account numbers, credit card statements, and more) to steal an identity. Comprehensive mail identity theft prevention requires the use of a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail, the use of secure blue USPS boxes to send outgoing mail, and the use of a cross-cut paper shredder to shred any and all sensitive mail documents before discarding them.
(LUBBOCK, TEXAS) “Two Lubbock women plead guilty to charges related to stolen mail. Paula Gonzales, 26, and Stephanie Martinez, 20, (also known as Stephanie Gonzales) both pleaded guilty on Thursday in Lubbock federal court.
Gonzales admits possessing and uttering forged securities. Martinez admits to possession of stolen mail. The two passed stolen checks at local Wal Mart stores. Court records mention at least $8,000 worth of stolen checks which Gonzales and Martinez forged.”
COMMENTS: More and more, thieves are able to steal checks from incoming or outgoing mail, wash them, and cash them at places like Wal Mart. It doesn’t look like Wal Mart’s lax policies are going to change any time soon, nor are these criminals going to stop targeting mailboxes. Therefore, homeowners need to get smart and start securing their mail. This means (1) use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail; (2) use the blue USPS boxes to send sensitive mail containing checks; and (3) shred all mail before discarding it. Following these three easy steps would go along way in reducing your chances of becoming a victim of mail identity theft.