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Mail theft often leads to identity theft

Dec 04, 2013 Dave King

Mail theft often leads to identity theft

Identity theft is a crime that occurs nearly every day, and many consumers have no idea what they can do to prevent it from happening. One of the most common causes is mail theft, as criminals attempt to steal personal information from bank statements and other documents.

A neighborhood in Austin, Texas, recently had to deal with this type of situation as the United States Postal Service is currently investigating {something's off} the possibility of stolen mail, according to KVUE News. Mailboxes were found left open and mail was on the ground ripped open, residents reported.

If homeowners find that someone has gone through their mailbox, the first step should be to contact their bank and credit reporting agencies to put a flag on accounts.

"Make sure you contact you banking institution," Erin Dufner, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Better Business Bureau told the news source. "The other thing is make sure you contact the three credit reporting agencies to put a red flag on your credit report."

Short term lenders also need to be one of the first defenses against identity theft, as criminals generally attempt to take out loans and open credit accounts using stolen names. It is important that these financial institutions implement strong ID verification procedures. Lenders can also provide homeowners with tips on how to prevent mail theft, such as:

- Remove mail soon after delivery: While it may be difficult during the week, people should try and get mail out of their mailboxes as soon as possible, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Consumers who work during the day may want to find a neighbor or family member who can come and pick up the mail, especially if theft has been an issue in the past.

- Don't get delivery when on vacation: Nothing tips off a criminal more than a stuffed mailbox. This is a surefire sign that people are on vacation, which makes theft simple. To prevent such a situation, consumers need to notify the post office not to deliver mail when they are away. The post office should have no problem taking this request, so a simple phone call could prevent identity theft when people are away from home.