Mail Theft Around the State Is Increasing
This month, a consumer alert was issued, warning New Yorkers about their vulnerability due to rising mail theft events.
Attorney General Letitia James specified that theft of checks, credit cards, and other financial documents from mailboxes across New York City is on the rise. Mail theft can lead to numerous harmful outcomes, such as identity theft, deed theft, and serious invasions of financial and personal privacy.
The Attorney General sent a letter to the USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, expressing her concerns on this unabated issue. James requested that the DeJoy's office "redouble its efforts in combatting mail theft through investigation and public attention."
As an example of the terrible outcome mail theft can have, James wrote in her letter, "Just this December 2022, my office indicted five members of a deed theft ring for allegedly stealing three homes worth more than $1 million in total from elderly, vulnerable homeowners. Crimes like these often begin with theft of mail addressed to or sent by USPS customers."
One countermeasure for mail theft was the redesign of mailboxes to make them more resistant to theft. However, thieves have worked around this minor setback, using schemes such as stealing mailboxes.
The USPS has provided the following tips to reduce your risk of mail theft:
Always pick up your mail promptly when delivered.
Do not leave it in your mailbox overnight.
Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail if you are expecting checks, credit cards, or any other financial items.
Contact the issuing agency immediately if you did not receive a check or any other valuable mail you were expecting.
If you change your address, you should immediately notify your respective post office and anyone with whom you do business via mail.
Inform your post office when you'll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
Consider signing up for USPS' Informed Delivery service, which provides email notifications for incoming mail and packages. Click here https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm to sign up.
If you suspect your mail was stolen or see a mail theft happening, contact the police immediately and then report it to Postal Inspectors by calling (877)-876-2455.
If you see glue, tape, or any other sticky substances on a mailbox, report it to your post office, Postal Inspectors, or the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS can be reached at (212) 330-2400.
Attorney General James recommends the following steps to anyone who believes their personal information may have been compromised.
Monitor your credit. Credit monitoring services track your credit report and alert you whenever a change is made, such as a new account or a large purchase. Most services will notify you within 24 hours of any change to your credit report.
Consider placing a free credit freeze on your credit report. Identity thieves cannot open a new credit account in your name while the freeze is in place. You can place a credit freeze by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax: 1(888) 766-0008
Experian: 1(888) 397-3742
TransUnion: 1(800) 680-7289
Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert tells lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit. You can place a fraud alert by contacting any one of the three major credit bureaus.