How Secure is Your Mailbox?

By Chris Contreras, Portland Sales Manager
Posted June 30, 2008

Like many of you, I hadn’t really thought much about mailbox security beyond my own email inbox, which is protected through various filters and programs designed by someone from NASA.

But something happened!

I started reading articles in the paper, and watching shows on television about mail theft right out of your own mailbox at home. Crafty, opportunistic identity thieves have found a very easy way to get their hands on your important personal information: just wait for you to put up the pickup flag on your mailbox, or just wait for your carrier to place it inside. For the smarter thieves, the days of dumpster diving are over. Scope out the right neighborhood, and a trove of credit card offers, bank statements, bills, and other valuable info are just sitting there. How convenient, right?

I also just read about a disturbing quirk in the Freedom of Information Act that identity thieves are using to get their hands on one of your most valuable items: your credit report! What they do is steal one the offers that is addressed to you, and then make some change to the information that will raise a flag with the credit card issuer, thus denying the credit request. Now here’s the great part: once a company turns you down, they have to tell you why, and also offer you a chance to see your credit report. So the smart thief changes the address on the offer, and is given an opportunity to have your credit report sent wherever he/she wants!

So, I urge everyone to please take a look at how your mail is sent and received in your home. If your mail doesn’t drop into your home through one of those handy slots, you really need to have a secure box with a locking lid. Also try and pay as many bills online (you save postage this way), but if you do have to mail one, take it directly to your neighborhood post office. I say this because thieves are actually taking entire post office drop boxes from our neighborhood street corners. Therefore, the best way to truly secure your information is to take as much ownership of the sending and receiving as you possibly can.