Yes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Warm, cozy and safe. The same cannot be said regarding your holiday mail. Your home is often the worst place to leave delivered or outgoing mail. The only safe place for that is inside a locked mailbox—a security feature that most homes lack.
Thieves steal mail on a regular basis. Just before the November election, one Denver resident warned neighbors on social media. “I found a ballot envelope in the alley while I was walking my dog yesterday—the envelope had been stamped but looked like it hadn’t been scanned in by USPS; the ballot itself had been ripped out of the envelope and was nowhere to be found,” she warned.
There’s no way to tell if that vote was counted, but that would be highly unlikely. The woman’s discovery was probably attributable to an unlocked mailbox. Everything from Netflix DVDs to birthday checks to election ballots can be stolen if you leave outgoing mail unsecured beside your mailbox.
Incoming mail also presents big risks. A bank statement can provide thieves with detailed information that includes your monthly income plus that bank’s routing and your individual account number. That’s enough to create fake checks in your name.
Also at risk are items dropped in the mail including tax documents, W-2 forms, and investment data. Unless you live in a home with a mail slot that drops these documents behind your locked door, investigate a more secure mail delivery option.
A locking mailbox could be perfect for that person on your list who has everything. Make sure it’s a sturdy model that will protect incoming mail from rain and other weather damage.
Do research before you buy. Some boxes come with a USPS seal of approval, but each residence has potential government restrictions. If you live in an area where the US Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail to the curb, the agency has created guidelines for designs that are acceptable. Other mailbox locations have different rules.
The cost of a super secure mailbox can run up to from $60 to $1,250. That’s no typo. Many advertised boxes are made of thin tin and can be easily bent out of shape. You need something rugged with a quality locking mechanism. Check product and company reviews before you order.
Of course, a locking mailbox is not going to deter everyone. Officials in California in September announced the bust of an identity theft ring that had broken into community mailboxes.
“Suspects in these types of cases utilize victims’ information to conduct identity theft, false impersonation, etc. Additionally, many pieces of mail contain credit cards or checks that the suspects use to make illegal transactions in the victims’ names,” warned the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
If you’ve ever experienced identity theft due to mail theft, share your story. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.