If you were an identity thief, where would you go to find unsecured credit card numbers, pay stub information, account numbers, car registration info, and insurance information all in the same physical location? Why not a mailbox? After all, mailboxes often hold all this personal information and more – and most importantly, they’re often left unsecured.
While other forms of identity theft generally require some level of planning and technical aptitude, mailbox theft is the crudest, least sophisticated means of identity theft. It’s so simple that even a four-year-old could do it. (Although admittedly they wouldn’t be likely to do so unless your mailbox is filled with stuffed animals and toys.)
To protect your identity and financial information from would-be thieves, you should consider making a trip to the locksmith to purchase a mailbox lock. There are an assortment of locks made for every conceivable mailbox type, so no matter how yours is constructed, there is a way to protect it. Manufacturers produce locks for standalone mailboxes, on-the-wall mailboxes, mailboxes with slots, mailboxes with flaps, and more. If you don’t want to mar the outside appearance of your mailbox with an unsightly lock, you can even get a specialized lock box to affix securely to the interior of your current mailbox design. Or, if you’d rather just replace your existing mailbox altogether, you might consider purchasing a brand-new one with a built-in lock.
See also Keyless Home Locks
Mailbox locks are a highly affordable form of theft prevention, as locksmiths offer basic locks for under 10 dollars. Even if you feel that something pricier is necessary, the investment is well worth it when you consider the potential monetary losses associated with identity theft.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a building that already has locking mailboxes, you should still consider replacing your lock upon moving in. Even if the mailbox’s previous owner turned in a copy of the key, you won’t really know whether or not there are other copies floating around somewhere. After all, if you got a hand-me-down email address, you would still change the password, wouldn’t you?
Also, be aware that living in a rural area does not make you immune to mail theft. Did you think that, like many other types of crime, mail theft is more prevalent in urban areas? Au contraire. In fact, USPS reports that the isolation and obscured visibility of rural mailboxes makes them more frequent targets of theft and vandalism than their city counterparts. That being said, it only stands to reason that even if you live in on unpopulated country road, you should probably look into purchasing a mailbox lock.
If – before purchasing or despite already having a lock – you find that you are a victim of mail theft, the United States Postal Service recommends that you fill out a formal USPS complaint form so that Postal Inspectors can investigate mail theft patterns in your area.
Because they are considered federal property, it is a violation of federal law to steal or vandalize a mailbox or its contents. In fact, it’s an offense punishable with up to three years in prison. Nonetheless, it happens every day; protect yourself now and visit a locksmith to secure your mailbox.