A new scam may be coming to your neighborhood. Thieves are now driving around residential areas and stealing the outgoing mail from residential mailboxes. These thieves usually strike in the morning and usually after you have placed outgoing mail in your home mailbox. Just like your normal mail carrier, these mail thieves are looking for the little red flag standing up to signal that outgoing mail is sitting in the mailbox. The thieves will then steal the envelopes and search inside for checks that you have written to pay your monthly mortgage, electric bill, phone bill, etc… Upon stealing your check, these mail thieves alter the check to a new payee name and dollar amount. They then have a person walk into a branch office of the Financial Institution that the check is drawn on and attempt to cash the altered check.
Amazingly, this crime may all happen on the same day that you mailed your payment out!
Tips on how you can help prevent mail theft:
- Consider only putting outgoing mail in a locked mailbox, in a blue USPS collection box, or drop it off at the post office.
- Retrieve your mail as soon as possible after it is delivered. Don’t leave your mail unattended for extended periods. Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
- If you cannot regularly retrieve your mail promptly, consider installing a lockable mailbox or obtaining P.O. Box service from your local post office.
- If you will be away from home temporarily, you can notify your local post office to hold your mail with the online hold mail service on the US Postal Service website.
- Ask your financial institution if your check order can be picked up at a branch location that you normally visit.
- Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and report any checks that you did not authorize.
- Make sure that your contact information (phone numbers, email) is up to date on your checking account- that way, if your financial institution is suspicious of a person presenting your check for cashing, they can quickly contact you to verify whether the check is valid or not.
- Be alert for unusual activity in your neighborhood. Watch out for strange cars and/or persons that are going into mailboxes along your street.
- If you believe you are a victim of mail theft or see suspicious activity, call the local police or contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 or on the Postal Inspectors website.