In a brazen, decades-old scam, criminals are now pillaging our mail boxes at an alarming rate. Mail fishing happens when thieves steal outgoing mail from U.S. Postal Service blue drop boxes before it can be picked up. Gift cards, replacement debit or credit cards, checks, birthday cards – essentially any documents that can either be cashed in, forged, or used to steal personally identifiable information (PII) is up for grabs.
According to New York City Police spokesman, Lt. John Grimpel, reports of mail fishing have doubled over the past two years. In April 2018, thieves stole $115,000 worth of checks from New Jersey postal boxes. Similar cases have been seen across the nation.
There are several ways to commit mail fishing identity theft. In some cases, thieves will lodge a catching device inside the box and remove it before the scheduled pick up. Other times they will apply ultra-strength adhesive to a string, tie it to a water bottle or piece of cardboard, and manually pull up pieces of mail. A bizarre incident occurred in May 2018 where three men put an entire Forest Hills, NY sidewalk mailbox in the trunk of a minivan.
Mail theft is a federal crime, carrying up to a 5-year sentence.
Four Ways to Avoid Having Your Mail Stolen
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of mail fishing:
- Bring your mail inside of the post office.
- Use permanent ink to write checks so thieves can’t wash them clean.
- Always follow up to make sure the intended recipient received the parcel (within a reasonable time period).
- If you must use a blue mailbox, drop off your mail as close to the scheduled pickup time as possible to avoid it sitting overnight.
Mail Fishing and Identity Theft
When your mail is stolen, a fraudster can collect enough information about you to build a profile. They’ll at least know your name and address – but bank accounts, credit cards, health insurance, and other PII, can also be divulged. Whether used for creating a synthetic identity, or perpetrating medical identity theft, credit card fraud, or even child identity theft, now is the time to get ahead of these fraudsters.
With #1 ranked identity theft protection from IdentityForce, we monitor all of the above for you 24/7/365. If there is any suspicious activity attached to your PII, you will be notified so you can put a stop to it. Get started today with a 14-day Free Trial.