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Post Office Fraud Threatens Identities

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We also tend to assume that sensitive documents sent to us will always arrive as expected. But are we taking mail security for granted?

How much trust do you place in the postal services? After all, many of the documents sent to you might contain sensitive information, which could be used to steal your identity if it falls into the wrong hands.

Of course, mail theft is a federal crime, and many people have taken steps to reduce their risks.  For example, placing locks on their mailboxes, or collecting their mail immediately after delivery. However, the postal service may be lagging behind on security measures, allowing clever thieves to take advantage of the system, and steal your mail before it even gets to you.

Mysterious mail holds

The initial signs of mail theft can be difficult to spot. Consider some of the incidents covered by NBC Bay Area.

Locals reported they were notified by credit card companies that their applications for cards were being processed. The problem was that they never applied for said credit cards.

For instance, a woman reported that she received an email telling her to be on the lookout for a new credit card, but it never arrived. In fact, she realized that she wasn’t receiving any mail. A quick call to the local post office revealed that someone had placed a hold on her mail.

A mail hold is for anyone to use when they plan to be out of their home for an extended period of time. You can ask your local post office to withhold your mail until you return to pick it up from the post office. It ideal for keeping thieves from raiding your mailbox while you’re away.

But what if a thief placed the hold on your mail without your knowledge? This is what is being reported in the San Francisco area. After applying to a credit card in a person’s name, an identity thief will place a hold on that person’s mail. Lowering the chance that they will be alerted of the fraud by receiving the credit card in the mail.

Federal agent Jeff Fitch told NBC Bay Area that this counts as a federal crime. Unfortunately, it appears to be a fairly easy one to commit. The Postmaster General is considering steps that would provide tougher security, but has not made any official moves yet. For instance, post offices still don’t have systems in place to verify the identities of those who place mail holds.

Don’t take mail safety for granted

Most of us don’t make serious efforts to guard our mail. We also tend to assume that sensitive documents sent to us will always arrive as expected. But failure to take the problem of mail security seriously can leave us vulnerable.

We know that it can be alarming to hear about threats to your privacy that could compromise your identity. Sometimes it can seem that you have to change everything about the way you live your life just to be more secure. But we at Identity Guard understand that your unique habits are what make you, you. That’s why we offer a variety of products to help personalized your approach to protecting identity and managing your risk. Check out how we can help you protect what’s yours.