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How to Prevent and Report Mail Theft at Home

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You might not hear a great deal about it, but mail theft is far more common than you might think. It has been estimated by some experts that as many as 400,000 people have their mail stolen each year. The consequences of this can be horrific. You might lose a package or some correspondence. But there are far worse things that can result from mail theft.

For instance, a great deal of your personal information contained in that correspondence can be hijacked. Your credit card data, bank account information, and social security numbers could all be stolen. In addition, a whole collection of other personal data could also be stolen to cause you problems. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons for thieves to intercept your mail. Acquiring some valuable and potentially profitable personal info about your life can be turned into a tidy profit.

Identity theft is one of the main motivations behind the growing trend of mail theft in this country. If it happens to you, the consequences might end up being nothing short of catastrophic. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can help to prevent mail theft and identity theft. If you should still be victimized, we have also included some information on how to report mail theft. That will allow you to alert the authorities quickly, so no further damage can be done.

Stop Writing and Sending Checks in the Mail

When you write checks and send them through the mail, there’s always a chance they will be intercepted by a criminal-minded individual. Once that occurs, a lot of bad things can happen. For instance, a thief might have the knowledge to ‘wash’ the check, making it ready for re-use. Then it’s just a guessing game about the amount they choose to write the check for, and where it goes to.

Even if they lack the expertise to wash the check, they can photograph it and record the bank account numbers. Once they have the bank’s routing number and your bank account number, they can make payments over the telephone – from your account. This may have been the most efficient way to pay your bills in the past. However, nowadays, a greater level of security is needed in order to stay safe when making payments.

a person putting a piece of mail into an outgoing mailbox

Hold Mail When on Vacation

Whenever you’re going to be away from home for several days, it will definitely be worth your while to have your mail stopped. When mail is obviously accumulating in a mailbox, it becomes very attractive to thieves. All they need is a single piece of mail with some important information included. That will give them a great opportunity to steal your identity.

It will be much safer for you to have your mail stopped for the duration of your vacation. You might also have a trusted friend or relative retrieve your mail each day. The same is true when you’re expecting a package delivery in the mail. This could be problematic if you’re obliged to be at work all day. Have a trusted friend pick up the package and just keep it until you have the chance to retrieve your delivery.

Don’t Raise the Mailbox Flag when Sending

The purpose of raising the flag on your mailbox is to alert the mail delivery person that you have outgoing mail in the box. Unfortunately, it also alerts thieves that there is mail in the box that is eligible to be stolen. It’s a simple matter for them to be cruising through neighborhoods, looking for raised flags and opportunities for identity theft. It may not be as convenient, but it’s far safer to just take your mail to any Post Office box in the community. You can also drop off your mail right at the Post Office. This eliminates the chance for thieves to make an easy killing on your mail and on the details of your identity.

Go Paperless Whenever Possible

Think of all the creditors you have whom you pay via checks or other methods through the mail service. Each one of those represents an opportunity for identity theft to occur. There won’t be anything you can do about that. To help lower the chances of identity theft, you should work with creditors to have paperless exchanges whenever possible. Any creditor that allows you to conduct transactions online should be switched over to paperless exchanges.

When you don’t receive printed bills in the mail, and you don’t pay bills with paper checks, you’ll be closing off one avenue for mail theft and identity theft. Many organizations have gone paperless in an effort to save money on printing costs and paper clutter. You should take them up on this opportunity and go along with the paperless initiative for your own reasons. That eliminates the possibility of losing crucial information that may be contained in invoices, bills, and statements.

letters in a mail box, multiple neighbors utilizing a mail room

Buy a Post Office Box or a Lockable Mailbox

If you don’t have a lockable mailbox, you might as well leave your wallet or your purse in your mailbox. Much of the information contained in your purse or wallet will also be available in your monthly correspondence. You can bypass all the unpleasant possibilities by purchasing a lockable mailbox. Alternatively, you can arrange to have a Post Office box that’s physically located within the secure walls of the Post Office itself.

Lockable mailboxes are available at many stores for less than $100. The amount you pay for one is far less than you might lose if someone steals your identity. A lockable mailbox does not require that your postal delivery person have a key to your box. All the delivered mail can be deposited in your box by slipping it through a slot that’s built into the box. Of course, thieves will not be able to penetrate the slot itself, so all your mail will be safe from thieving hands.

It will be necessary for you to drop off any outgoing mail at the Post Office. There are also probably plenty of convenient receptacles in your community. And if you decide to purchase a Post Office box, you can count on your mail being secure.

Participate in the Neighborhood Watch Site NextDoor

NextDoor is a kind of neighborhood watch site that was originally setup in response to the increasing incidence of mail theft. Messages can be posted on this site that alert community members to illegal activities taking place in various neighborhoods. People can increase their own security measures, and be on the lookout for thieves. You can stay involved with this website and react to reports of suspicious activity in your own neighborhood. This will help you to take steps that will prevent mail theft and identity theft. The Post Office itself will sometimes post alerts on this site when they become aware of illegal activities in certain areas. It’s always better to be forewarned and take steps, than to react to something that has already occurred.

a closeup of white or cream envelopes for mail

Reporting Mail Theft

When reporting a suspected mail theft, the first thing you’ll need to do is relate why you think your mail has been stolen. If it’s just a one-time thing, that may not be theft. However, when your mail is missing more often, that constitutes a pattern which is very suspicious. If you were expecting a package that was sent but never arrived, you’ll need to report some details. Typically, this should include the contents of the package, the dollar value, the expected date of delivery, and who mailed the package to you.

If you have any suspicions about who hijacked your mail you should describe this individual in your claim. For instance, you may have seen someone lingering around mailboxes in your neighborhood who is not a community member. All this information can be reported to the Post Office by phone. You can also file a complaint online at the websites of the US Postal Service.

It would also be a good idea to report the theft to local authorities. Mail theft is a serious crime that carries a penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If the police are successful in tracking down your thief, it will put him/her out of business for quite a while.

Contact ONIT Home Today

All homeowners are obliged to keep security in mind these days. Ignoring it could lead to having your home vandalized, goods can be stolen, and property can be defaced. You should definitely take steps to safeguard your mail delivery and protect your identity. You should also take other steps to keep your home’s occupants safe and sound. ONIT Home specializes in home security. Contact ONIT Home to take advantage of our years of expertise in home safety and security. We can have an expert at your home shortly to assess your current security measures. We can then advise you on other features that would be useful in keeping your home safe against the criminal-minded. Call us today to get started at 1-833-433-0331!

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