400,000 US residents have gone through mail theft.
Anyone convicted of postal theft faces five years in federal prison, or fines of up to $250, 000. However, it is clear that this has done little to stop the vice.
Why is your mail so precious and what can you do to protect yourself? Read on.
Why Is Your Mail Targeted?
Simply put; for profit.
Think about the information that someone can find from your mail:
• Bank statements
• Credit care statements
• Checks or cash
• Tax information
• Employment documents
Though some private data is omitted from such documents, they still give enough information for criminals to piece up.
There are two main ways in which mail thieves would want to get their hands on your mail.
One is the anticipation that mailed packages will contain something with a reasonable monetary value.
Secondly, (and scarier) is to attempt identity theft.
For this, petty crooks will often lift your mail and sell it to individuals running identity theft racquets.
Identity theft is not uncommon; 60 million Americans have fallen victim to it at one point in time.
Checks can also be altered and crooks can get a payment after changing the recipient’s name and the payable amounts.
Another way to profit off your personal information is by making online purchases, opening bank accounts and applying for online loans.
How to Prevent Mail Theft
Seeing how your seemingly harmless mail can be used, the big question is: how do you prevent this from happening to you?
There might not be a way to be 100% mail theft proof. Nonetheless, there are indeed steps you can take to prevent the occurrence and minimize your exposure if it does happen.
1. Invest in a Security Camera
A security camera does not only help you catch thieves after the fact but also, it can act as a deterrent.
The latter is especially useful because it saves you the time you will have to spend filing a report and following up the police about the incident.
For this to be useful, make sure to mount it in an easy to spot place. A prospective thief should be able to spot it easily so as to be deterred.
2. Install Mailbox Chimes
If a thief fails to see your security camera, a mailbox chime is a perfect second line of defense. A chime works like a subtle alarm and nothing stops a burglar like the thought of being caught.
A chime alerts you when your mail is delivered (so you can get it). If it’s not on mail delivery day, then you know it’s an unwanted intruder.
You can flash your lights or set the alarm off to get the thug off your property.
3. Report Theft
Making a formal report to the United States Postal Inspection Service can stop thieves from targeting specific areas.
You can file use the USPS website to file a complaint online, or to see the numbers to call in your area.
The inspectors can analyze the information you provide and make determinations on the extent of the problem. All reports made provide solid clues to help USPS mail theft investigation processes.
4. Collect Mail Immediately
This is another way to prevent your mail from being stolen. As much as possible. Avoid leaving your mail lying in the mailbox for extended periods of time.
If the mail delivery days in your neighborhood are predictable, make it your routine to pick your mail as soon as it’s dropped off.
Do the reverse as well. If you have outgoing mail, try as much as possible to take it to the post office directly, as opposed to leaving it on the mailbox for when the mailman comes.
You can have a collective mail drop off with a group of friends where each person takes everyone’s mail to the post office on a rotational basis.
5. Find a Lockable Mailbox
You lock your house, car, office and so on, right? The same caution should be exercised with your mailbox.
Like most thieves, mail thieves prefer an easy job. The more time they spend trying to pick a lock, the higher their chances of getting caught.
Therefore, have a sturdy, lockable mailbox with a sizeable slot where the mailman can slide in your mail.
6. Watch out for Re-routing
Postal theft does not always happen by a thief physically invading your mailbox. At times, criminals will re-route your mail. Your mailbox will be untampered with-save for no mail coming in.
This is usually done by initiating a change of address at the post office.
This is easy to spot with a bit of vigilance. Missing mail for a day or two is unlikely to alert any suspicion. However, when you go without mail for a month or so, there is a problem.
You should probably check if a change of address was executed at the post office.
6. Use the Post Office
In as much as you should collect your mail immediately it’s delivered, life events can prevent you from doing so.
From work travel to vacations, you will definitely have times when you are unable to keep up with the rules.
You can authorize the post office to hold your mail periodically until you are back and can receive them at home.
Alternatively, you can have a trusted neighbor or friend collect it for you.
7. Go Paperless
You can also switch to paperless statements and billing to avoid the amount of sensitive information coming through your mail.
It also helps to find other ways to send expensive items and gifts so that in case you become a target, you do not lose anything of real value.
Security Begins With You
Pretty sure you have heard this plenty of times, and here it is again.
Use these tips to deter theft or minimize your loss in the event that a mail theft attempt is successful.
Reliable Chimes has 28 years of experience in all matters security for both homes and businesses. Would you like to tap into our array of security solutions?
Check out our products and make your order today.