For several years, a friend who lives in a rural area has used a post office box for all of his mail correspondence. Several times, mail thieves looted his home mailbox, which sat just off the road. Considering the ramifications of mail theft, his use of a P.O. box was and remains a wise move.
Communities throughout the U.S., not just rural, are seeing an increase in mail theft. The main reason why someone would steal your mail is to steal your identity.
The BBB offers the following tips for keeping your mail safe:
• Remove mail from your mailbox promptly after delivery. If you are not home when mail is delivered, consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to get your mail for you.
• If you are expecting a check or other valuable mail and don’t receive it, immediately contact the sender.
• Instead of leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox for your postal carrier to collect, deposit it directly in a mail slot at your local post office or hand it directly to your mail carrier.
• Never send cash or coins by mail. Instead send a check.
• Put your mail on hold with your local post office when you are on vacation or away from home for an extended period of time.
• When changing your address, notify your local post office using their Change of Address form or online system at www.usps.com/umove. Also notify all of those you do business with via mail, such as your bank and credit card companies.
• Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By working with trusted neighbors and friends, you can watch each other’s homes and mailboxes. For more information about starting a watch program, you can check the resources at the Spokane COPS website, www.spokanecops.org, at the Spokane County Sheriff’s website, www.spokanecounty.org/sheriff, and at www.USAonWatch.org.
If you see mail theft in action, you should immediately call the police and then the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455.
Tear up or shred mail before recycling or throwing it out.
For more tips you can trust or to file a complaint, you can contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling (509) 455-4200.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor