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Is It Worth It?: Buying a locking mailbox to prevent mail theft

The United States Postal Service says mail stolen from mailboxes accounts for about 2 percent of identity theft.

It doesn’t sound like much, but you should think of your mail box like a jackpot for an identity thief.

” They can find social security numbers, medical records, bank account numbers you name it,” said Rhonda Vanderford, the Senior Underwriter at PEMCO Insurance. “With that information they can open new accounts, rent properties, claim insurance claims.”

You can buy a locking mailbox to protect your mail. PEMCO says the city of SeaTac just started a locking mailbox program. The city buys locking mailboxes in bulk, sells them to residents and sends out a city worker for installation.

Keep in mind, not all locking mailboxes are the same. Some can be broken into with a screwdriver, so do your research before you buy.

If a locking mailbox isn't the best option for you, there are some other things you can do to safeguard you mail.

" Pick up your mail as soon as it arrives if possible, but never leave your mail in the mail box overnight," said Vanderford. "If you're going on vacation have the post office hold your mail or maybe ask a neighbor to pick it up for you."

Remember that less mail means less mail theft. Here are some more tips:

  • Use electronic bill pay whenever possible
  • Never send cash in the mail
  • Opt out of pre-approved credit offers
  • Don't put up the red flag on your mailbox. It tells people there's likely a bill being paid, which means there's check or credit card information inside. Instead, mail your payments from inside the post office.

USPS also has a free service that sends you emails to notify you of any incoming mail.

PEMCO says it is worth buying a locking mailbox, but remember no mail box is fool proof. Make sure to take other steps to protect your mail and information from being stolen.