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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

The Dangers of Mail Theft and Ways to Prevent It

Many people tend to assume that sending information through the mail is a reliable way to deliver important items like rent or monthly bills. Even though many companies, and even landlords, give individuals the opportunity to pay their dues via the Internet, a lot of people still rely on the postal service to help them send out their various checks. While there is always a threat of identity theft when you share information online, no matter how secure the website you choose to use is, there are also a lot of ways that your personal information could be compromised when you hand it off to a mail carrier.

Mail theft happens all of the time
In 2006, the U.S. Postal Service reported that there were 5,060 arrests and 4,625 convictions regarding mail theft nationwide, showing that the crime is hardly a rare occurrence. In most cases, the thief is looking for information like account numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal info that could plainly be listed on one of your bills. This is especially true if you are mailing a check, which has all the information a thief would need to drain your account completely of their funds.

Certain information could give a thief the key to your identity
If they get a hold of your credit bill, a thief could go on a shopping spree using the information listed on it, which could affect your credit score and, in turn, the amount of credit a lender may be willing to extend to you.

This could be even worse the thief uses your information to open up a whole new line of credit in your name. They could make a mess of your credit and ultimately leave you with a debt burden that you might not be equipped to handle.

Avoid the mailbox at all costs
In most cases, thieves get caught committing mail theft by snooping in your mailbox. Since this is the case, deliver your bills yourself directly to the post office so a sneaky thief won't find it in your mailbox. While you don't have to take this precaution with every letter you send, it may be one of the safest ways to send off your bills aside from using the Internet.

Many times, people aren't even aware that a thief has stolen their identities and is making purchases using their information. Enrolling in an identity monitoring service may be a huge help in this situation as it will alert you to certain activity taking place in your name that seems out of the ordinary or may indicate identity theft. If you suspect that this information may have come about because of an identity thief, you can take actions to address it.