One of the easiest and most important ways to protect against identity theft is to secure all incoming and outgoing mail. While there is growing attention to hi-tech methods of stealing personal information like hacking into databases and sophisticated phishing schemes, the reality is stealing mail continues to be a frequent and favorite method of identity thieves – with good reason.
On any given day, the average household receives many types of mail containing personal information, credit cards and checks that can be used by even the least sophisticated identity thief.
The types of mail identity thieves seek include:
- Credit and debit cards
- Credit card checks
- Credit card statements
- Credit card offers and applications
- Checking and savings account statements
- Newly issued checks
- Investment account statements
- Pension account statements
- Payments to the self-employed
- Wage and earnings statements
- Phone and utility bills
- Retail invoices and statements
- Tax returns and statements
- Medical bills
- Insurance claims
- Insurance information (auto, health, life)
- Identification documents (driver’s licenses and passports)
But it’s not only incoming mail that identity thieves steal. They are even more interested in outgoing mail.
In fact, identity thieves patrol neighborhoods searching for outgoing mail. Why? Because this is often the easiest, fastest and most productive way for an identity thief to obtain personal information filled in on a range of forms and applications, credit and debit card information filled in on payment forms and checks that can be altered for the thief’s use.
Fortunately, everyone can take steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of an identity thief stealing their mail.
These steps include:
- Use a Post Office Box address
- Use a solid steel locked mailbox at home
- Suspend mail delivery during vacations
- Use direct deposit for wages and payments
- Use online billing and payments
- Use online statements for all financial services
- Use online statements for all insurance services
- Shred unwanted mail containing personal information
- Deposit outgoing mail in Postal Service boxes or hand to USPS carrier
Additionally, to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail that may contain personal information or credit applications that identity thieves seek, please visit see our Opt Out page.
Finally, if you believe you’ve had mail stolen, you can file an online complaint with the U.S. Postal Service.
Click Here To File A Complaint