Identity theft is scary and very real. In a world where technological advances are made daily and our information is very public, we must be extremely careful as to what information we share and how accessible it is to those around us.
In 2017, consumers reported $905 million in total fraud losses, which has caused the public to become much more cautious to fraud-related contacts. But, how is this information being leaked? And what can we do to ensure we are safe from fraud?
According to Experian Information Solutions, 64% of all fraud-related complaints reported are in the form of contact. This means that over half of reported fraud is through the people we are communicating with and giving our information away to. Of said complaints, 69.8% are from telephone, and 9.7% are from e-mail. Only 5% of consumers reported postal mail.
But what about mail theft? No, not e-mail hacking or website browsing. We’re talking old school thieves fishing through your mailbox, taking your mail and using it to steal your identity.
Mail-fishing is still an issue
Yes, this is still a problem. Don’t panic, however, because most cities have already begun the process of tackling this and so can you. The best thing you can do is to learn the signs and methods to combat this issue.
In 2017, the United States Postal Service sent out around 150 billion pieces of mail in the U.S. alone. That’s 150 billion chances for identity thieves to sneak into your mailbox, obtain your information, and steal your identity.
According to a study released in 2007, U.S. Secret Service cases between 2000 and 2006 showed the top two methods of non-technological identity theft included re-routing of mail and mail theft. Therefore, it is valid to fear that your mailbox is victim to this act.
What is mail theft?
Mail theft is stealing and intercepting any piece of mail. It is a federal crime, and the punishment can result in a fine, imprisonment, or both depending on what violations are made and the country you live in.
How do I know if I’m susceptible to this crime?
Anyone is susceptible to any crime. This is the risk we take living in our homes and using our mailboxes. While it is much more common than you think, it is still very easy to avoid and take control of.
According to the New York Times, in 2018 there were about 3,000 reports of mail-fishing. With new changes being made in collection boxes across the country, including higher security and less room for fishers to access mail that has been dropped inside, this number has been predicted to decrease by 30% in 2019. As of March, there were only 352 reported cases, setting the city on track for less mail theft.
What do I do to avoid mail theft?
There are plenty of ways to keep tabs on your mail and ensure that there is no room to worry. Added security is one of them. By using a security camera or investing in a mailbox lock, your box will be much harder to get into. If you notice that your mail is late or has gone missing, report it.
Another method is to cancel mail subscriptions and sign up for paper-free options. If your subscription is accessible by e-mail, make the switch over. Most of your bank statements, credit-card statements and bills can all be paper-less as well. Contact your providers with questions on how to get the change started. Switching from paper to e-mail will not only ensure security but is much less time consuming in receiving and sending your subscriptions, bills and statements.
Lastly, invest in a mailbox that fits your needs. If you live in a place where mail fishing is common, try investing in a mailbox with a lock. In a locking mailbox, incoming mail is protected from mail thieves. While locking your outgoing mail is not approved by the USPS, you at least can ensure that your incoming mail is safe for your retrieving and will not fall into the hands of those who should not have it. A locking mailbox deposits incoming mail into a separate compartment from your outgoing mail, adding extra security and putting your mind at ease.
Here at Spira, we offer locking wall boxes ranging from stainless steel and matte black to fit your home’s security needs. You can browse our options here.
Do not live in fear
By being proactive and making the changes you need to fit your security needs, you will be taking the right steps into a theft-free direction. Your identity is who you are, and your mail contains an abode of private information that should not be exposed to others. Make the change, report any suspicious activity and live stress-free.
For more information, check out this info-graphic made by Mailbox Big Box
Identity Thieves Heart College Students by the team at Mailbox Big Box