There are nearly 1.7 million cases of mail thefts every day, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS and nearly 40% of Americas who have a mailing address have experienced the pain and misery of having a mail delivery stolen at some point in their lives.
Mail theft is an epidemic that is only getting worse (the USPS says mail theft complaints increased by 161% from March 2020 to February 2021) because when someone steals your mail they are not only getting what they are stealing. In many cases, they are also getting to your personal and financial information which allows them to steal your identity and your money.
For mail thieves, there are certain items that are high on their list to pilfer from your post. Here’s a list of some of their main targets:
Not only will criminals cash your checks pretending to be you, they’ll also “wash” the checks – use chemicals to erase your name and the amount on the paper – so they can put their name and a higher amount on the check. Washed checks can also be duplicated and used multiple times.
If they don’t cash them or clean the checks themselves, thieves will sell them to someone who will. A sociology professor at Georgia State University who studies identity theft and fraud found that during October 2021, 1,325 stolen checks with an estimated face value of $11.6 million were up for sale every week on the internet.
Anything delivered from a doctor or healthcare provider is the motherlode for a mail thief, which is probably why reports of medical ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) went from about 6,800 in 2017 to almost 43,000 in 2021. In fact, documents like health insurance enrollment forms, health insurance cards, doctor bills or claim/intake forms are up to 50 times more valuable to the bad guys than a credit card.
That’s because, whereas a credit card has a spending limit, with medical information they can use your information to create separate accounts and use medical services for an extended time period and run up exorbitant bills. They can also gain entry to your personal information like social security numbers which will give them access to all facets of your identity and financials.
Thieves are also on the lookout for your medication, which can be a two-for-the-price-of-one theft. They can take or sell the pharmaceuticals as well as use the medical information on the packaging to either access more of your prescriptions or to gain entry into your health care and doctor accounts.
While this type of crime can wreak havoc with medical insurance, bank accounts and your identity, it can also lead to desperate health consequences for those who miss out on essential medication for any period of time.
There’s a lot that falls into this category, from credit and ATM cards, government documents (anything from the IRS or Department of Commerce), gift cards, credit card bills, utility bills, credit card offers, mortgage bills, bank statements, investment statements and just about anything that is asking you for a payment.
Information from any of these mailings can give a criminal direct access to your financial and personal records (and social security number) or give them the information they need to gain entry to your accounts, records and data.
We often think of protecting the mail that’s coming in but what about the mail that’s going out? People often leave envelopes in their mailboxes for postal workers to pick up when they deliver the mail. Thieves know this and will often steal out-going mail looking for checks being mailed to pay bills. Never leave any bill payments or mail with personal information in your mailbox – always bring it to an official postal box or post office to be mailed.
For all of the above, the best way to stop these crimes is with a lockable mailbox. A top locking mailbox brand is Adoorn. Adoorn’s secure mailboxes prevent mail & package theft and keep your deliveries safe from porch pirates and they can be easily accessed by your delivery drivers.
Speaking of packages…
Boxes and large parcels are some of the easiest items to steal because they often don’t fit into a standard mailbox and are therefore commonly left unattended by front doors, in lobbies or on stoops.
The everyday-occurance of this crime is well documented with thieves following UPS and Amazon trucks, striking even when recipients are home and upping their looting at the holidays.
You can try a doorbell camera or tracking, but nothing stops this crime like the original Adoorn Modern Package Box, a lockbox that sits on your property and safely stores your packages until you bring them inside.