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Avoid Tax Season Mail Theft

While crime related to mail delivery happens year-round, tax season warrants closer attention to mail security practices. Mail theft has risen steadily since the beginning of the pandemic with residential mailboxes being the primary target of these crimes. Unfortunately, mail theft can be a difficult crime for police to investigate, partially due to the fact that it may be weeks before a victim notices the missing post. It is also possible that thieves will take outgoing mail, which makes it difficult to assess when the crime actually took place. Criminals not only aim to steal and fraudulently cash tax refund checks, they may also gather personally identifiable information (PII) from pieces of mail, which can be used to perpetrate identity theft and other scams using social engineering tactics. During tax season and beyond, take steps to ensure both incoming and outgoing mail is protected against theft.

Incoming Mail:

  • If you get a tax refund, opt to have it issued via direct deposit rather than a mailed physical check.

  • USPS Informed Delivery will provide grayscale images of each piece of mail scheduled to arrive soon, via email or an online dashboard. This way, you can anticipate the arrival of an important piece of mail and be made immediately aware of anything missing.

  • Register for tracking alerts for incoming packages from USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, etc., as needed, and collect packages upon delivery. If you are going on vacation, be sure to place a hold on your deliveries or coordinate with a neighbor or doorman to hold your items while you are away.

  • Consider a locked mailbox if you regularly receive sensitive documents via mail. This will allow the postal worker to drop mail in the mailbox but requires a key to retrieve the items.

Outgoing Mail:

  • User paperless billing when possible – minimize the number of checks sent through the postal service.

  • Avoid using residential mailboxes for outgoing pieces of mail.

  • Best practice is to take outgoing mail directly to the U.S. Post Office or a commercial establishment (e.g., UPS store).

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