Well the holidays may be over but that doesn’t mean Mail Theft has taken a break. Mail theft across the country continues to be an ongoing and serious problem. When crooks snatch your mail, they can steal your enclosed checks and also use the information to steal your identity. We would like to encourage everyone to be vigilant. Following are some tips that may help protect your mail from theft:
1. Install a locking or drop Mailbox. Sometimes, your traditional mailboxes, that can be fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver in seconds, are too tempting to the mail thieves. In that case, you may prevent mail theft by upgrading your mailbox first. A more solid mailbox could avoid vandalism from mail theft. There are also more advanced anti-theft mailboxes with a special locking system to secure your letters and identity information.
2. Do not put outgoing sensitive mail in your personal mailbox. For example: Checks for bills, documents with personal information, etc. Just take it to the post office and drop it in their mailbox. Keep it out of the hands of those with sticky fingers.
3. Ship using “Hold for Pickup”. When shipping packages, you can choose the Hold for Pickup option, and the recipients can collect their packages at their local Post Office. If you are expecting a package, you can redirect it to your local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup.
4. Going out of town? Hold your mail at your local Post Office. If you plan on taking a trip or know you won’t be able to check your mail for a few days, consider using the Hold Mail service on usps.com. Letters and packages will be held securely at your Post Office until you pick them up or request they be delivered to your home.
5. Sign up for Informed Delivery or request an alert from your Shipper. The United States Postal Services (USPS) has designed a system that informs you of your mail before it’s on its way. It’s called “informed delivery” and sends you a daily email or text of what physical mail is being sent to you each day. It allows you to know what items to expect. Or if you’re expecting a package from a company, you can request to be alerted when the item arrives. Most companies will provide a text, call, or emails letting you know your item has been delivered. This is a great way to keep your mail safe.
6. Do Not Use the Mailbox Flag. A mailbox flag signals that something is inside which needs picking up by either you or your carrier. Postal carriers rarely raise flags themselves after they've delivered your mail today but thieves may take notice of the upright flag you've put up: A raised flag signals an opportunity for mail theft.
Foremost just change the way you use the mail. Protecting your mail can be just a matter of changing the way you think. It used to be safe to leave your mail in the mailbox all day. But then, it also used to be safe to leave your doors unlocked all the time. We don’t live in that world anymore. So take some time to think about the mail habits that you have that could put you at risk. Then change them. You’ll have one less point of risk when thieves come calling.
*** Benton County Sheriff says if you see a vehicle or someone in and around your mailboxes that appear to be suspicious please call dispatch at 509-628-0333. When doing so provide a vehicle description and license plate number if possible. We would also recommend additional security to get a locking mailbox which would help secure your mail. ***
For more great tips you can use not just during the holidays, but all year long, visit uspis.gov.