Postal Mail Theft
If you live in Hudson Valley, it's time to get on the defensive regarding mail theft. With rising reports of statements, packages, letters, and other important documents going unchecked due to a significant increase in mail thefts across the state, this is not something NY residents can afford to ignore. From unscrupulous individuals stealing mail right out of people’s mailboxes to sophisticated corporate schemes involving employee fraud and identity theft, unfortunately, anyone receiving or sending mail could be at risk for experiencing a violation of their privacy – and possibly even having their financial information compromised.
What is postal mail theft?
Postal mail theft is a felony under federal law and could be penalized by up to five years in prison. When it comes to financial mail theft, the worst kind of mail theft, offenders could face up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Financial mail thieves target documents such as statements, credit cards, and checks. They can also target confidential items like tax information and Social Security numbers.
Where has this been a problem in NY?
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert to warn New Yorkers about mail theft and to provide recommendations from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to protect themselves from this federal crime.
In Orange County, The Town of Montgomery Police Department posted the warning on Facebook, “Attention Town of Montgomery residents, businesses, and surrounding communities! There is an ongoing pattern of stolen mail and checks from mailboxes involving numerous jurisdictions in Orange and Dutchess counties.” Police say that once the criminals steal the mail, they go through it, and if they find any checks, they attempt to use the mobile deposit feature at various banks and credit unions.
How can you protect yourself?
The state’s top prosecutor released the following tips:
- Pick up your mail promptly. Do not leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you expect checks, credit cards, or other financial items to be delivered, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
- Report possible lost mail. Contact the issuing agency immediately if you did not receive your statement, check, or other valuable mail you were expecting.
- Did you move? If you change your address, you should immediately notify your respective post office and anyone you do business with via mail.
- Are you traveling? Inform your post office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
- Use email notifications. Consider signing up for USPS’ Informed Delivery service, which provides email notifications for incoming mail and packages.
- Contact police. If you suspect your mail was stolen or you see mail theft in progress, contact the police immediately and then report it to Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455.
- Report sticky substances. If you see glue, tape, or any other sticky substances on a mailbox, report it to your post office, Postal Inspectors, or the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS can be reached at 212-330-2400.