I always considered my community mailbox a safe place to send and receive mail. Each house has their own personal mailbox with a lock and it’s located at the entrance of the neighborhood where people are always coming and going. I never would have thought that someone could steal our mail, but I was wrong.
Over the last eight months, I’ve been dealing with ongoing mail theft and have had endless mail stolen including a debit card that was issued from California State with thousands of dollars for pregnancy disability and family bonding that was completely wiped out in a matter of days. Plus, multiple checks, bills, packages and much more. Not to mention, my husband received a credit card for a store he never shops at. Someone had opened an account in his name and already made a few purchases! Not only is it incredibly scary to think that a thief has access to all our personal data from credit card bills and bank statements, but it has been very frustrating dealing with the endless calls to flag fraud on our various accounts, requesting new checks to be issued and explaining to providers about why payments have been missed and requesting the reversal of late fees. I also want to mention that I missed a friend’s surprise birthday because I never received the invite. So, this goes even deeper than financial matters. Luckily, I got word that there is a suspect in custody and I hope that this issue will clear up soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share what I learned about how to better manage my mail and keep it safe.
Even if you haven’t been a victim of mail theft, it’s important to take the steps to protect yourself from the potential of it happening to you in the future. Follow these tips to protect your mail.
- Install a mailbox with a key for your home. If you have a community mailbox such as I do, consider getting a P.O. box.
- Check your mail every day! Find out when the post office delivers mail in your area and try to get to it as quickly as possible. The longer you let mail sit in your mailbox, the more vulnerable you will be to theft.
- Pay your bills online and set up alerts on your accounts so you know when payments are due. If your bills are stolen and you don’t pay in time, you will face late fees, interest and your credit score will suffer.
- Deposit outgoing mail at your local post office. A thief who intercepts your credit card payment can get the information he needs to take over your account or can make counterfeit checks using the account number on the bottom of the check.
- If you’re expecting a package from a friend or family member or place an online order, make sure to track deliveries using the tracking number and make sure someone will be home to collect it. Otherwise, send packages to your place of employment if it’s allowed or ask an neighbor to keep an eye out for it.
- Monitor financial statements daily for any potential fraudulent activity and keep an eye on your credit report to ensure that identity theft is not occurring.
- Call your local U.S. Postal Inspector Service if you suspect mail theft immediately. There may be other complaints and an investigation underway that you may be able to help with, or bring to light an issue that is occurring.
- Download the neighborhood watch app, NextDoor, to stay connected with neighbors and community members about serious issues like mail theft in your area. The apps lets you warn each other about suspicious vehicles and recent mailbox break ins which can help you stop payments on checks and get ahead of the thief.