The common perception is that most identity theft occurs from Internet use, but the number one cause of identity theft is actually mail theft. Every day the US Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards, bank statements and other valuable items. Unfortunately, such items of value are also attractive to thieves.
Here's what you can do to protect your mail:
- Never send cash or coins in the mail, send only checks or money orders.
- Retrieve your mail about the time it is delivered, if possible, and don't leave it in the mailbox overnight.
- Have your mail held by the post office if you will be on vacation or absent from your home for a long time.
- If you don't receive a check or statement that you are expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- Never put out-going mail that contains checks or personal identification numbers in your mailbox.
- Always deposit mail at secure drop boxes, at the post office or hand it to your postal carrier.
- Report any suspicious activity or people loitering near mailboxes or in the neighborhood.
- Choose a mailbox that is strong, durable, has a narrow slot and is lockable.
- Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch program so you can watch each other's homes - and mailboxes.
- Check your credit reports to see if any fraudulant activity has occurred.
The Mill Valley Police Department offers "8 Ways to Protect Your Identity" packet that includes information on mail theft, how to get free credit reports, reduce junk mail and guard your personal information.
If you are a victim, please report all mail theft to the US Postal Inspector at 877.876.2455. Contact your local law enforcement agency to file a report, also.