According to a survey conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft affected more than 12.6 million American citizens in 2012.
Unlike your mail carrier, identity thieves never rest, not even on Saturdays. Since your mailbox stands close to the road outside your house, it is often a target for vandalism.
Aside from impacting your finances, becoming a victim of identity theft could affect your credit in the long term. Your mail probably includes important documents or checks, especially when tax refunds worth billions are being sent out.
Over the years, mailbox vandalism has become increasingly common. If your mailbox is not well built and properly affixed to the ground, anyone can knock it off. Unfortunately, having your mailbox properly fixed does not provide the required levels of protection and care.
In addition to ensuring your mailbox gets maximum protection, you can keep yourself from becoming an easy target by taking the following precautions against mail fraud and identity theft.
Check your well-secured mail regularly
Aside from the fact that you shouldn’t leave mail in the mailbox much longer than is necessary, installing a secure mail slot or locking mailbox to keep your mail from criminals might be a better idea.
If you are unable to install a security slot or locking mailbox, make sure you don’t leave any letter in your mailbox for long. If you have letters to send, make sure you take the time to deposit them in a secure post office mailbox.
On the other hand, if the mail you were expecting does not arrive, check with the sender to confirm it was sent.
If you are going away, improve your security by stopping mail delivery
If you are planning to go out of town for a while, you should put your mail delivery on hold, at least for the time you won’t be home. Apart from preventing identity theft, making sure your mail is not delivered when you are not home helps to reduce the likelihood of real-life break-ins.
Having a lot of mail in the mailbox is a common indication that the occupants of a house are away, which increases the risk of break-ins.
Keep your mail out of sight and remember to shred the junk mail
The mailbox is not the only place those hoping to steal your identity will look for information. As such, you shouldn’t leave your mail in places where criminals can get their hands on it such as inside your car. Additionally, you should carry your sensitive mail only if you plan to send it that very day.
Although you may perceive some of your mail as junk, you should not discard them without shredding. Identity thieves will take the information they need irrespective of the form it’s available in or where they get it from, even if this means digging through trash.
Visit your local post office and get yourself the Label 33
Getting the Label 33 from your local post office and pasting it to your mailbox would be wise. Thanks to the label 33, any willful damage to your mailbox shall be considered a legal crime, the repercussions of which will most likely scare away potential vandals or anyone who might break into your mailbox.
Make sure you report any incident of theft
Because they don’t think it is worth the hassle, many people fail to report incidents regarding the vandalism or theft of their mailboxes. Instead of holding back the report, you should make an immediate complaint regarding mail theft to your postmaster.
Once you have reported the matter, your local post office will probably try to determine whether what occurred was an isolated incident, or more of a common occurrence in that particular neighborhood.
Keep your mailbox in good condition
Instead of paying little attention to the state and health of your mailbox, sprucing it up and keeping it as clean as possible would be wise. In this way, you create the impression that you actually care about your mailbox.
Vandals and thieves are less likely to target your mailbox of they think you check it on a daily basis. On the other hand, leaving your mailbox in a disoriented state shows that you don’t care, and this will probably increase the likelihood of theft.
Increase your safety by going against the norm
Instead of placing your mailbox close to the street, it might be best to move it closer to your front gate. As a result, vandals and thieves will most likely think twice about targeting your mailbox.
Although it may seem like an insignificant step, repositioning your mailbox might help prevent potential damage and theft. Cameras are known to scare away vandals and thieves.
As such, your mail would probably be safe from vandalism and theft if you installed a camera overlooking your mailbox.
Get yourself a strong metallic mailbox
Most of us prefer wooden mailboxes because they tend to be the more attractive and most complementing choice. However, complementing your home’s exterior and enhancing the aesthetic value of your property isn’t as important as ensuring your safety.
Having a metallic mailbox installed would be wise if you want protection because they are sturdier, more durable, and can take a lot more than standard mailboxes.
Adding a lock also helps to reduce the likelihood of theft and vandalism. As shown in this video, making an indestructible mailbox is not as hard as most people think.
Protecting Your Mail At All Times
The eight steps mentioned above can help keep your mail from identity thieves and vandals by providing maximum protection at all times. Although each of the measures referred to above will effectively protect you against identity theft, you don’t have to execute them simultaneously.
You can start by completing those that stand out the most. Start small and knock them off the list one at a time. You should not implement any of the suggestions listed above in a hurried manner. Remember that you have time to do them all.