Identity Theft

As we enter into the holiday season, it is sad that we must remind folks that grinch package thieves are on the prowl. More so than other times of the year. Along with these actions are mail theft, as well as ID theft. Regarding ID theft, I came across this article worthwhile sharing, Clues to look for if you suspect ID theft

Earlier in the year I also suggested to sign up for the USPS informed delivery service. If you haven’t done so, get on it and strengthen your oversight of mail delivery to your home address. Alternatively, research locked mail boxes, or a PO Box at the USPS, Postal Annex, or similar stores offering mail reception services.

Protecting your US mail

Over the years neighbors expressed concern over criminals rifling through our mailboxes to steal documents and information used for IDentity theft purposes. If concerned, consider the following solutions:

1) strongly consider replacing your existing mailbox with one that is lockable (security mailbox). It permits USPS to deliver mail, but the mailboxes are designed to deter theft, vandalism, or fishing mail out through the mail slot. The only means to retrieve mail is through the locked access panel. Typically, these mailboxes are built with sturdy 14-16 ga steel and withstand high amounts of abuse, typically these cost ~$100

2) switch over to paperless billing with your various vendors, utilities, financial institutions, suppliers, etc. While this safeguards the bulk of your mail, you leave yourself exposed if you have an unreliable email provider, use simple passwords on your accounts, or have poor endpoint security (desktop computer, mobile device). This option is only as secure as your vigilance to practice good online/computing security, i.e. don’t resuse passwords across sites, don’t use easily guessable passwords based on common knowledge of you, your family, or lifestyle,  and deploy a decent AntiVirus/AntiMalware solution.

3) make use of the USPS Informed Delivery Service. This is a FREE service offered by the USPS that scans the exterior of daily delivered US mail to your address. You must sign up for an account and verify your identity. Once done, access the USPS website or use the Informed Delivery app (available on IOS and Android) to review the mail delivered to your home address on a daily basis, e.g. water bill, credit card bill, payments, financial statements. If the delivered contents do NOT match the electronic record, you know something is wrong immediately and can notify the USPS to determine the whereabouts of the lost mail.

There is no single end all be all solution to this problem, but a combination of these solutions, or all of them provides better piece of mind to the home owner.