You never know at what moment identity thieves may choose you as their target. In 2018, around 15% of all complaints filed by consumers to the Federal Trade Commission were connected with identity theft. Other identity theft numbers are also far from promising. Offenders continue to get unlawful access to credit cards, financial data, and other personally identifiable information every day.
Unfortunately, direct mail cannot guarantee 100% protection from mail identity theft. Although mail becomes the initial method of fraudulent contact only in 5% of cases (compared to 70% of the telephone), you should take steps to protect yourself anyway. By staying more alert and careful, you can minimize the chance of mail ID theft and other illegal activities.
Inkit is committed to the privacy protection and data safety of our customers. Therefore, we decided to collect the most critical information about mail fraud and how to report mail theft in one article:
- What is identity theft and mail ID theft in particular?
- Mail identity theft in numbers
- Types of personally identifiable information thieves can collect through mail identity theft
- Tips on what to do if someone is stealing your mail and how to report mail theft.
What is Identity Theft and Mail ID Theft?
Identity theft is an unlawful use of a person’s identity without their consent. This crime occurs when thieves take advantage of personally identifiable information to obtain money, take out a loan, or get other benefits. As a result of identity theft, both the victim and the party that transmitted the information may suffer from significant financial and reputation damage.
Mail identity theft is one of the forms of id theft performed with the help of physical mail. Whereas today, the majority of massive data breach cases happen with electronic records, less tech-savvy criminals use direct mail. They try to get hold of mail pieces that include the full name and date of birth of a person, bank account or credit card details, credit records, PINs, and more.
Data Breach and Mail Identity Theft in Numbers
You have probably heard about the recent cases of data breaches and mail identity theft. Yet the big picture and total statistics are much more convincing than news posts. They will probably nudge you into planning what to do if someone is stealing your mail. And it’s always better to be prepared and protected before a mail fraud hits you.
Here are some numbers and facts, so you could better understand the scale of the problem:
- 5.66% of US consumers suffered from identity fraud in 2018 (it’s a 15% less than in 2017)
- Today more people are recovering the losses from their own pocket
- New accounts fraud is usually related to mortgages, student loans, car loans, and credit cards
- US citizens are more prone to identity theft than the residents of other countries. In 2016, offenders stole over 791 million identities in the US. The risk additionally increased after the Equifax hack, when millions of birthdays, addresses, Social Security Numbers, and driver’s license numbers were stolen
(Source: Financial Samurai)
- Only 5% of recorded fraud complaints were initiated by sending a piece of mail (70% – by phone, 10% – by emails, and 8% – through websites)
- In 2018, 15% of all consumer complaints to the FTC were related to identity theft and 48% to fraud.
What Types of Personal Information Can Thieves Collect and How?
Before giving tips on what to do if someone is stealing your mail and how to report mail theft, let’s clarify what types of mail are the riskiest. Remember to be extra careful every time you send or receive such mail.
Financial documents, such as credit card details, records, and transactions are the most prone to mail identity theft. They include information that provides immediate access to the finances of victims. Personal and account documents are also a common target of mail theft for the same reason. Such post allows an identity thief to get your birth date, Social Security Number, phone, driver’s license number, username, and passwords.
Basically, identity thieves may target any direct mail that includes personal details. In addition to the listed categories, offenders may also use junk mail with PII data, school- and business-related documents.
Mail Identity Theft Approaches
Mail identity theft isn’t as technically complicated as cracking databases. Therefore, to protect your mail from fraudulent activities, it may be enough to know how thieves behave. There are several common approaches:
- Thieves submit a fraudulent Change of Address request to your mail carrier and re-route your mailing
- Someone takes your credit card invoice. Once such mail has been stolen, the identity thief can use its details to pay for goods and services. Alternatively, the offender uses the information from the bill to call you on behalf of a credit company and receive other confidential information
- Identity thieves obtain the outgoing mail you send to a credit card company, for example. This allows them to cash the checks, find out your bank account number, name, and address
- Offenders may steal directly from the post office boxes and take advantage of the obtained information before someone arrives to call the police. Local post offices don’t always ensure the necessary protection of their mailboxes, which facilitates mail identity theft.
Four Tips on What to Do if Someone is Stealing Your Mail and How to Report Mail Theft
Tip#1 on What to Do if Someone is Stealing Your Mail
First of all, you need to know your mailing schedule and be aware of all the critical documents you receive on a regular basis. This will help you notice the moment when something goes wrong and your postal carrier starts ignoring you. In many cases, it’s not the postal service to be blamed, it’s the work of identity thieves. Also, you should never leave mail in your mailbox and try to immediately take it home.
Note. If you are a company that uses direct mail for marketing or operational purposes and want to protect your customers, consider automation. Direct mail automation offered by Inkit simplifies mail tracking and makes mail delivery better managed. In addition, the tool automatically processes customer data, which significantly reduces the risk of a breach.
Tip#2 on What to Do if Someone is Stealing Your Mail
You can reduce the volume of mail that includes personally identifiable information to minimize the chance of mail identity theft. Make sure to complete payments online to avoid mailing physical financial records. You can also opt-out of most kinds of direct mail using National Do Not Mail lists. Learn how to opt-out of junk mail here.
Tip#3 on How to Report Mail Theft
If theft was already committed, you must file a fraud alert on the website of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Click this link for quick access. This service also offers a range of other additional resources that will help you understand what to do if someone is stealing your mail. Moreover, you can lodge a complaint or find out how to report mail theft on the official page of the Federal Trade Commission.
Tip#4 on How to Report Mail Theft
If your mail has been stolen, you must also contact the sender/recipient. If it’s a financial institution or an insurance company, they will be able to take steps you protect you from their part. Besides, you may be eligible for compensation.
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