Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion.* On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
What’s also jaw-dropping is that a large number of criminal activities occur around the distribution of our mail. The U.S. Postal Service made 339 arrests and 854 administrative actions, all resulting from a year-long internal mail theft investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General. While identity theft is prevalent, there are some things that you can do to as a mail recipient that can protect you from fraud.
- Pick up your “incoming” mail promptly. Don’t leave “outgoing” mail in an unlocked mailbox. If you only have an unlocked mailbox, consider dropping your mail into a U.S. Postal mailbox/slot.
- Consider Direct Depositing regular income checks electronically right into your bank account.
- Always send a check or money order through the mail (never cash).
- Promptly report if you did not receive expected credit cards, checks, and other valuable mail.
- Immediately notify the post office, expected senders of mail that you receive (e.g. bills and etc.) and family/friends if you change your address.
- Notify the post office or have a trusted friend/neighbor promptly pick-up your mail after delivery while away on vacation.
- Immediately report any suspicious persons or activity.
- Read your mail. Then, shred it!
- Destroy anything with your name, address, or other identifying information on it before discarding (especially credit card and home loan applications).
- Remember junk mail can be a gold mine to thieves.
Understand that identity thieves not only use unsuspecting victims to open up credit cards, but stolen identities are also used to obtain employment and to deceive law enforcement.
*Based on a range of information gathered from public and private resources.
Sources: ("Identity Theft Statistics: 15 Million Victims a Year |www.IdentityTheft.info."Identity Theft Statistics: 15 Million Victims a Year | www.IdentityTheft.info. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014).
("Internal Mail Theft | Office of Inspector General." Internal Mail Theft | Office of Inspector General. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2014).
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan