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Preventing Mail Theft

Your mailbox is chock full of important and confidential information – blank credit card checks, bank statements, state and insurance benefits, credit and mortgage applications, to name a few. In the wrong hands, this information can wreak havoc on your finances and life.

What to do to keep your financial transactions out of the hands of thieves:

• It’s convenient to put outgoing mail in your mailbox for the mail carrier. However, this leaves you vulnerable to having sensitive information stolen. Deposit sensitive outgoing mail at the post office or into a U.S. post office mailbox.

• Don’t deposit mail into a post office mailbox after the last pickup of the day.

• Use direct deposit to deposit checks directly into your bank account. Direct deposit transactions will be automatically protected by electronic transfer laws.

• Always review your credit card and bank statements. Don’t wait to report any discrepancies. Losses due to fraud are covered by most banks, so long as you are not in fault and notify them quickly.

• Keep personal information on your checks to the essentials: Name, address and telephone number. Information such as driver’s license or social security number is asking for trouble.

• Don’t give ANY sensitive personal information to an unsolicited telephone caller. This is usually a scammer looking to bilk you out of your personal financial information. Just hang up on them.

• Before throwing away personal financial records (canceled checks, ATM receipts, bank statements) make sure to destroy them.

• Take your mail from the mailbox the day that it arrives. Don’t leave it in the mailbox overnight.

• If you’re going to be away, request that the post office hold your mail. If you change address, notify the post office and people you do business with by mail, of the change immediately.

• Mail theft can be stopped by reporting it. The U.S. Postal Service offers up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of violators. If you suspect mail theft, call visit your local post office or call the toll-free postal crimes hotline: 800-654-8896.