Your mail box can be a prime target for neighborhood thieves. Local thieves cruise streets looking for mailboxes with the flags raised. After taking your mail into their car, they look for envelopes containing checks. Using a piece of tape over your signature, they use a pan of chemicals and wash the check, thus leaving a blank check with your signature and bank account number. This is a handy way for them to make some expensive purchases and a surprise for you when you get your bank statement.
Crooks can also steal boxes of new checks, bank or credit card statements and pre-approved credit offers. Tax season is a perfect time for thieves. Additional information like Social Security numbers are on many forms.
Learn how to protect yourself from mail scams by the following list published in the book, “It Pays to be a Senior,” by FC&A publishing.
• Put outgoing bills in a blue U.S. Postal Service drop box instead of leaving them in your personal mail box. You can also deliver mail inside the post office or hand it directly to your mail carrier
• Look for a good location. Drop boxes outside a post office are often under video surveillance
• Deposit your mail as close as possible to posted collection times
• Do not put your bills in a mailbox that is overstuffed, which allows thieves easy access
• Use a gel pen to write checks. For example, Uniball pens contain a special ink that is more resistant to check-washing
• Pick up your checks from your bank rather than having them sent to your mailbox
• Put a hold on your mail if you go on vacation
• Use a locked mailbox for incoming and outgoing mail
• Go high-tech. If you have a computer, you may want to consider making your financial transactions online. That way, you avoid mailing checks to pay bills or deposit funds.
Source: “It Pays to be a Senior,” by FC&A Publishing