- Personal Finance
Mail Safety Tips
Your Mailbox and Safety
The scene is full of nostalgia. A suburban street is lined with mailboxes waiting for the daily postal delivery. At approximately the same time of day, the local postal service makes its way down one side of the street and up the other retrieving and depositing mail. Is that mail safe?
What's Going On?
It's nothing new, but there is much more mail theft today. Identity theft is prevalent and we must do all we can to protect ourselves and our information. Thieves are stealing tax return information, checks and other data to aid them in identity theft practices. The less information available to them the better!
What Can I Do To Protect Myself?
I have a friendly postal worker that comes by my house five days a week. She advised me not to put the red flag up on the mailbox if I am leaving mail to be picked up. Those red flags send a message that there is mail sitting in the mailbox. If you need to leave mail to be picked up, leave the flag down.
I personally drive my outgoing mail to an official postal station. There are locations all over my city and it only takes a few minutes to drop by a box. Many shopping centers will also provide official drop stations for patrons and their convenience. I have one around the corner from my house, but use it only occasionally.
If you or neighbors nearby are home during the day, your mailbox is safer. Daily and sporadic activity outside will cause thieves to think twice before hanging around. Look out for unusual cars parked in the area or strangers lingering around mailboxes.
If you are home during the day, get your mail out of the mailbox as soon as you can. If not, retrieve your mail as soon as possible. Try not to leave mail in your mailbox overnight. If you are out of town, HOLD THAT MAIL. This can be done on line, by mail or in the post office. The postal service will deliver it all when you get back or you can pick it up from your assigned post office.
If you have had issues with your mail delivery, there are mailboxes available for a rental fee. You can rent in the post office or in a local mail processing shop. Renting a postal box for a year could cost about $200.00. A rental box is also not as convenient for picking up your mail.
Many of the newer neighborhoods do not have individual mail service, but are using mailboxes placed in one area. This may require a drive or walk to the mailbox for mail retrieval. The good thing about this type of mail service is that the boxes are locked. A key is required to enter the mailbox.
Protect Your Personal Information
Be sure to protect your personal information sent through the mail. Make sure that the mailbox is closed tightly. I will occasionally see an open mailbox with the mail still inside. The carrier did not close the mailbox tightly. If you walk by an open mailbox, close it.
Many of us are oblivious to the vast amount of identity theft in this country. Fraud is prevalent in many areas of our financial world. Let's protect ourselves by using good common sense and keeping a watchful eye in our neighborhoods for ourselves and for our neighbors.