Alert, watchful and cautious, you take precautions to protect your identity. After all, you have heard the horrific stories, maybe even know a victim of identity theft. And, you are determined to avoid falling prey yourself.
The risk is real. In 2014, approximately seven percent or 15 million Americans experienced victimization at the hands of the identity thief. And, 86 percent of these cases resulted from fraudulent use of account information. The financial loss of these criminal actions adds up and leaves victims feeling exposed.
Knowing this well, you are known to take precautions to:
Your careful guard of personal information brings a sense of security. As well, it should. But, may we suggest a gap in your protection?
Yes, this hometown staple tops the list as the second riskiest non-technological point of identity theft, according to a 2007 study. And, all that deliberate securing of documents and shredding personal information do not address this issue. Protecting your mail before it gets into your hands proves a vital step to guarding against identity theft.
Again, the risk is real. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) informs the public that approximately 400,000 Americans suffer stolen identities through mail theft, according to an ABC News report. With the focus on phishing and virtual stealing schemes, the reliable snail mail box often goes unprotected.
Sure, the ramifications may be caught if you monitor your financial statements. But, by then, irreparable damage may be done. No guarantee exists that your accounts will be credited or restored after a bout with an unauthorized user.
Thieves tend to remove either incoming or outgoing mail from your box. Surely, you would notice, right? Perhaps. But sly criminals take only what is needed to avoid arousing suspicion. And, after commandeering a few pieces of mail over a short period time, thieves amass enough information to pose as you.
With access to bill payments and credit card statements, identity thieves use account numbers to make purchases in your stead. Taken a step further, filling in the change of address form on the back of the statement keeps the activity hidden from you over a few months.
Also, the red outgoing mail flag signals not only your postal carrier but those watching that valuable information is available for the taking. Account numbers and banking information open the door to further fraud. And, check payments can be washed to make them payable to the criminal.
While paying your bills online, dropping outgoing mail at the post office and checking financial statements prove helpful, they offer only a partial defense. Even being alert to mail delivery patterns, making attempts to diligently pick up mail promptly and reporting suspicious activity fall short or prove impossible when you are not home during day. So, what solution remains?
This simple solution allows mail carriers to place mail into the box. However, a key is required to remove it. This cost-effective measure protects your mail and identity from thievery. You would not leave the valuables and personal information in your home, even your computer, unlocked and unprotected. Consider your mailbox an extension of your home.
Communities or apartment buildings with common mail areas prove especially hard to monitor due to the level of natural traffic. Locking mailboxes located in these main gathering spaces becomes especially important. However, be aware that significant risk exists at end-of-the-drive boxes as well.
We offer key making services on quick turnaround timeframes maintain the security of your personal information in the event of a broken or lost key. Newly cut, duplicate keys give you same day access to your mail. And, if security remains a question with a lost key floating about, new lock installation ensures only you access sensitive, personal mail.
While the price of a locking, secure metal mailbox may cause you to cringe, consider the investment. The couple hundred dollars to install this type of box offers assurance against the time, hassle and financial loss of identity theft. Plus, remember to add in the value of peace of mind that comes with this additional security.
The risk of identity theft looms large for Americans. Both virtual and old standby mailboxes continue to prove at risk. Fortunately, the means to protect your personal information and, thereby, your identity are within your grasp. Grab the keys and lock that mailbox today.
For information on securing your personal identity by locking your mailbox, contact us today. We’re happy to help!