The theft of mail from residential mailboxes is an increasing problem. Con artists use mail to obtain your identity information and to steal checks and other items of value. This problem can be reduced or minimized by following these tips:
* Do not leave outgoing mail in your unlocked mailbox.
* Deposit mail in a blue collection box or inside your local post office. Don't leave mail in a box that is full.
* Make sure your home mailbox is in good condition. Mail that is exposed can be damaged by bad weather and is visible to thieves.
* Promptly pick up your incoming mail after it is delivered.
* Get together with neighbors and the Postal Service to arrange for the installation of locked group mailboxes for neighborhood delivery. These are known as Neighborhood Delivery & Collection Box Units (NDCBU). Each address has an individual locked unit for delivery and collection. At least seven neighbors are needed to sign a petition requesting an NDCBU.
* Purchase a locked mailbox or convert your unlocked box to the lockable type. Make sure the mail slot is large enough for the letter carrier to insert your mail. The letter carrier cannot pick up mail from this type of box.
* Arrange for your mail to be delivered to a post office box for a small fee.
* Have regular income checks deposited electronically into your bank account via direct deposit.
* Promptly contact the senders if you do not receive credit cards, checks or other valuable mail.
* Notify the post office and mailers if you change your address. When going on vacation, have the post office hold your mail or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail after delivery.
* Be observant of activities on your street, including those near your letter carrier, the postal vehicle, residential mailboxes and collection boxes.
* If you see suspicious persons or activity, call 911 while the suspects are still present.
* To "opt out" of receiving pre-approved credit and insurance offers from the credit bureau mailing lists call: 18885OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit: optoutprescreen.com.
By following these tips and using common sense, you can lessen your chances of being a victim of mail theft and possible identity theft.
If you have questions about postal regulations, contact your local postmaster.
Officer Bob Wilkins is a crime prevention practitioner with the Plantation Police Department. Send any questions about crime prevention or the police department to firstname.lastname@example.org.