Home Mailboxes Are Open Targets for Identity Thieves

Connecticut Better Business Bureau has advice for securing your mail and reducing potentially “dangerous” junk mail.

Walingford, CT, January 15, 2009 --(PR.com)-- While many Americans believe most identity theft occurs during online transactions, consumers need look no further than their own home for a potential “open door” to identity thieves: The mailbox.

According to a Javelin Strategy and Research survey, more than eight million Americans became the victims of ID theft this past year, with nearly a half million the result of stolen mail.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Hotton Scarpetti, says there is a significant risk of identity theft from your own mailbox.

“Thieves can steal pre-approved credit cards, bank, credit card and other financial statements, as well as a wealth of other material to enable them to ultimately steal your identity.”

There are a number of measures consumers can take to protect themselves from these criminals:

1. Secure your mailbox
Consider replacing your mailbox with a slot in your door or a locked mailbox which requires a key to remove mail.

2. Reduce junk mail
One person’s garbage is an identity theft’s goldmine. Fifty-six percent of identity theft is the result of direct contact with the victim’s personal information by rifling through a mailbox or trash can.

3. Shred sensitive material
Many people consider junk mail a nuisance and simply throw it out. But some of that unwanted mail may contain pre-approved credit offers that may be used to open fraudulent accounts. Make sure they are shredded before throwing them out.

4. Opt-out of Junk Mail
You can reduce the risk of mailbox threats by opting-out of pre-screened, pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-567-8688 or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. You will be asked for personal information including your name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number. This information is used to process your request and remains confidential.

You may also stop unwanted junk mail by contacting the Direct Marketing Association and asking to be removed from their marketing list at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing.

Finally, carefully read materials from your financial institutions to look for an “opt-out” clause which will enable you to prevent the sharing of your personal information with other parties.

Outgoing mail is also at risk of being hijacked, so consumers are urged to drop off mail with payments and other sensitive information in a U.S. Postal Service letter box.

For more helpful tips to prevent identity theft, please visit www.bbb.org.

Better Business Bureau CT
Howard Schwartz
203-279-2700 ext. 103
94 South Turnpike Rd
Wallingford, CT 06492