Identity thieves are exploiting a loophole in a free postal service designed to give you an early look-see into what’s coming in the mail that day.
But there’s a simple way to beat them at their own game!
Avoid this Informed Delivery pitfall
When the United States Postal Service (USPS) expanded its Informed Delivery program to most zip codes last year, it probably didn’t anticipate the crooks would “squat” on people’s home addresses.
The purpose of Informed Delivery is to help you remotely monitor what’s coming into your mailbox at home while you’re out of the house.
Users who opt in receive daily emails (usually around 9 a.m.) with scans of all first-class mail that will be delivered to their address later that day.
A typical scan looks like this:
Recently, the Secret Service sent a message to law enforcement nationwide with a warning: Seven criminals in Michigan allegedly used the Informed Delivery service to commit economic identity theft — and they’re afraid similar crimes may be in the works.
According to Krebs on Security, the fraudsters first signed up with Informed Delivery using other people’s names and addresses, coupled with a decoy email address that they could monitor.
Then they opened up new lines of credit in other people’s name and monitored the Informed Delivery service while waiting for the cards to come. When the cards were delivered, they stole them out of the mailbox before anyone knew what happened.
Finally, the crooks went on to rack up some $400,000 in charges on the stolen cards!
So here’s the key takeaway for you:
Sign up for Informed Delivery right away if you haven’t done so already. That way, you can stop a criminal from signing up as you.
Fortunately, signing up is simple. Just follow this three-step process:
Ready to sign up? Do it here!
Finally, there is a low-tech way to protect yourself against what the criminals are doing: Just get a locked mailbox from which only you can retrieve the mail everyday.
While it isn’t foolproof, something as simple as this can go a long way to stopping criminal mail theft.
More privacy & identity theft stories on Clark.com:
- New breed of card skimmers at gas stations pose high-tech threats
- Banks are now working with DMVs to get your personal data
- Your Vizio TV might soon tell you if it’s been spying on you