The Thief Is In The MailWritten by Identity Theft 911
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Many cases of mail theft involve no ringleader and no conspiracy, Postal Inspector Paul FX Lowery points out. But crimes can be elaborate, with teams compiling detailed dossiers on victims based on information gleaned from mail swiped from mailboxes or pulled from garbage. "Much mail theft occurs in volume attacks on neighborhood mailboxes or mailboxes in apartment complexes," says Lowery. "The big boxes are targeted because of large number of letters, bills, or solicitations available." In one case in San Francisco involving old-style mailboxes, a man was caught on security video prying open boxes at an apartment complex and rummaging through them — then smiling as he passed a resident in lobby."We're seeing more organized groups committing crimes related to identity theft — for instance, with ringleaders producing counterfeit checks, distributing them on street, and recruiting people to cash them," concurs Postal Inspector Robert Carlson. "We're also seeing an increase in thefts from postal trucks and from apartment panel mailboxes, as well as from cluster boxes that are commonly found in new developments."These cluster boxes (known in USPIS lexicon as "neighborhood delivery collection box units," or NDCBUs) typically also have a slot for outgoing mail — which Carlson does not recommend using. Likewise, Carlson notes that putting red flag up on your mailbox is like waving a cape in front of a bull — a terrific way to draw attention of a mail thief to outbound check that's often waiting inside. If you're placing mail to be delivered into mailstream, says Carlson, USPIS recommends either handing it to your mail carrier, putting it directly into a USPS "blue box," or carrying it personally to a U.S. Post Office branch.Defending your mail When you think of Pacific Northwest, with its idyllic forests and bugeoning high-tech industry, mail theft is not first thing that leaps to mind. But as it turns out, there is a connection. Before getting into secure mailbox business, Rod Olsen of Mail Systems NW spent 16 years as a sawmill engineer — an unforgiving line of work where design concepts are tested in most brutal possible terms and margin of error is uncomfortably close to zero.As a result of this trial by fire, when Olsen began working on a prototype for a secure mailbox, his skills were up to challenge. Then, a little more than six years ago, a Visa bill was stolen from Olsen's own mailbox by an identity thief who went on a $500 spending spree before being caught. Realizing just how much worse damage could have been, Olsen decided then and there to get his mailboxes out in marketplace where they might save others from having to go through same ordeal."If I'm going to do this," Olsen said to himself, "I'm going to do it right." So, having devised and built mailbox designs that met both his own high standards and secure mailbox specifications of United States Postal Service, Olsen submitted his work to rigorous USPS approval process. Several months later, he received his reward — right to use words "approved by postmaster general."Steve Christenson, CEO of Identity Theft 911, chose Olsen's mailboxes to complement his company's other identity theft defense products only after a long and arduous search. For one thing, Christenson's company partners with some of biggest names in fraud protection area, from insurance powerhouse AIG to credit industry leaders like TransUnion and Truelink. For another, as a member of fraud protection community himself, he understands all too well damage that mail theft can lead to and was determined to find a real solution, not just a cosmetic one. "We were determined to offer toughest and best designed locking mailbox on market — and to make it available at a price that people could actually afford. Fortunately, Rod Olsen shares our goals. We spent months researching this, but it was worth it. We found exactly what we were looking for."The U.S. Postal Service is undertaking its own prevention efforts — including modified locks, security locking bars, and new high-security boxes for use in high-risk areas. The agency also has mailed prevention-tip postcards to residents in Zip codes that have been previously struck and in other high-risk areas in California and elsewhere in Southwest. The postcards urge residents to watch for suspicious activity, record license plate numbers and descriptions of suspicious vehicles, report thefts as soon as possible, and avoid leaving mail in a box overnight.Red flags and other danger signs.... Read rest of Article: http://www.identitytheft911.com/education/article/idtheft_20040128_mail-01.jsp
http://www.identitytheft911.com Identity Theft 911 provides one-on-one counseling, strategies, and resources to targets of identity theft. Combining an intense one-to-one focus with a comprehensive nationwide resource network, the company specializes in helping individual and enterprise clients resolve the financial, legal, and emotional fallout from identity theft and related crimes.
How to Protect Your Mail from ThievesWritten by Identity Theft 911
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* Always deposit your mail in a blue Postal Service mail collection box or mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier. Don't place it for carrier pick-up in a mailbox or area where it can be easily stolen. * Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes (as well as homes). If you observe a mail thief at work, call local police immediately, and then your nearest Postal Inspector. * If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. You'll be asked to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. By analyzing information collected from form, Postal Inspectors may determine whether your problem is isolated or part of a larger mail theft problem in your neighborhood--and it may help Inspectors locate and apprehend thieves.
Identity Theft 911 provides one-on-one counseling, strategies, and resources to targets of identity theft. Combining an intense one-to-one focus with a comprehensive nationwide resource network, the company specializes in helping individual and enterprise clients resolve the financial, legal, and emotional fallout from identity theft and related crimes.