How To Prevent Identity Thieves From Stealing Your Holiday Cheer This Season

How To Prevent Identity Thieves From Stealing Your Holiday Cheer This Season
December 14, 2023

With the holiday season upon us, Americans will see more mail and packages than earlier in the year. During the 2022 holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) processed over 11.7 billion mail and packages. While the deliveries can inspire significant holiday cheer for the intended recipients, it also opens opportunities for identity thieves.

Recent years have seen a notable uptick in cybercrime. However, nearly half of identity crimes occur because of low-tech processes – for example, mail theft. Stolen mail and packages often contain a wealth of potential for criminals. They can acquire crucial clues about you, all neatly packaged, in checks intended as gifts, gift cards, and many sources of identifiable information.

Criminals often target unattended packages and time their theft when no one is home. After acquiring something, they sort through their finds for information about you, like your name, bank account information, and anything else they can use. Identity thieves can use this information to open credit lines or file taxes if they find your Social Security Number. In some cases, they may use your name while committing crimes or sell your information on the dark web for others to exploit.

Unfortunately, mail theft has quickly grown alongside identity theft. In 2021, over 300,000 people filed theft complaints. This record marked an increase over the previous year. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of someone stealing your mail and packages this holiday season. Such steps include:

  • Using the USPS “Informed Delivery” tool to receive digital previews of incoming mail to know when to expect what delivery, ensuring you immediately know if something goes missing.
  • Not leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox or a collection box. Consider handing it directly to your carrier or the post office.
  • Ensuring you never leave mail uncollected while traveling over the holidays. Arrange for a friend or family member to collect your mail or have the post office place a hold on delivery during this timeframe.

Taking the above steps makes it possible to significantly reduce the potential for mail theft. In turn, you will avoid identity theft. However, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk. As a result, watch for any signs of identity theft, such as unexpected bills, credit card statements, or confirmation of a change of address. You should also consider running a self-background check. Running a self-check can reveal unforeseen and suspicious activities on your credit and background reports, warning of potential identity theft.

Click here to run a self-background check to ensure your information is accurate.