Fraudsters used to use victims’ previous addresses to commit identity fraud, but it is now becoming much easier to steal current details through computer scams. Don’t let this fool you into thinking real life mailbox (this is not your email mailbox) fraud isn’t a growing problem though!
Fraudsters still realize the opportunity for real life mailbox fraud and they can apply for credit and loans in your name with relative ease. The mail is intercepted by the fraudster and the only time you realize you have had your identity stolen is when you either apply for new credit or get a letter from a credit/loan/HP company thanking you for purchasing their product/service.
The mailbox problem
Mailboxes that reside in an apartment/flat hallway (very popular in the US) for example and can be accessed with a key can also be accessed by other people – these types of mailboxes are also appearing in the UK (especially as more and more apartment blocks are being built due to lack of available land). So, this type of identity fraud is very real and is a serious problem for anyone who wants to secure their mail if they live in a flat/apartment. Here are some very simple steps to protect your mailbox identity:
- Take your outgoing mail to a drop box/PO Box (in the UK) rather than leaving it in your mailbox
- Pay bill payments (credit card bills included) and other financial transactions from a post office
- When you order your bank checks (called a cheque in the UK) collect them from your branch
- Going on vacation? Ask a neighbour to pick up your mail and remove it from sight
- Going on vacation? Call the post office and ask them to have your mail held until you return*
- Complain to your credit card companies if they send you unsolicted credit applications/checks**
- Regularly check your online credit report / Apply for a ‘Triple Agency Report’ i.e. Experian/Equifax and TransUnion/CallCredit (UK)
- Apply for CIFAS ‘Protective Registration‘ if you live in the UK – this will make it harder for a fraudster to apply for credit in your good name
*TIP: Always ask a neighbour to check your mail even though it might be on hold as another carrier can still deliver your mail.
**TIP: Identity thieves will use credit checks (cheques in the UK) to commit fraud in your good name.
Find out more about the US and UK Identity Theft Protection Services available to you.
Safe surfing folks!