Protecting Your Mail and Your Identity
Since your mailbox is your greatest point of threat in the real world, knowing how to protect your mail is your first line of defense. It starts with being attentive. Know your mail carrier, know his schedule, and know normal delivery patterns for the mail that you receive.
In addition, put some safe mail handling practices in place:
- Don’t leave mail in your box. Incoming or outgoing mail should never sit in your mailbox for an extended amount of time. For example, when you mail bills out, don’t place them in the mailbox as you leave for work in the morning. Instead, drop them at the Post Office. Also don’t leave mail sitting in your box after delivery.
- Use a locking mailbox when possible. If you must leave mail sitting in your box, consider investing in a locking mailbox. These boxes allow Postal carriers to place mail in the box, but only a person with a key can remove it.
- Rent a Post Office box. A Post Office box is the safest way to have your mail delivered, and they’re not expensive if you rent one through the Postal Service. If you can’t be around when mail is delivered to your street box, then renting a Post Office box is best way to protect your mail.
- Use electronic payments and banking when possible. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? You would think that paying your bills online or using your online banking services would put you at greater risk for identity theft, but nothing could be further from the truth. When you’re conducting financial transactions online – safely – you’re far more protected than when you send checks through the mail that can be stolen, washed, and re-used. If you haven’t set up electronic payments, now is a good time.
Protecting your mail, and your identity, really is just a matter of changing the way you think. It used to be safe to leave your mail in the mailbox all day. But then, it also used to be safe to leave your doors unlocked all the time.
We don’t live in that world anymore. So take some time to think about the mail habits that you have that could put you at risk. Then change them. You’ll have one less point of risk when identity thieves come calling.