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People are Stealing Mail — Here's How to Protect Yourself, AG James Says

New York’s attorney general is asking the public to be cognizant of their mail after a spike in mail theft
Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Matt Cohen/Flickr

Attorney General Letitia James is issuing a consumer alert after a recent spike in mail theft. 

“Stealing mail is a violation of privacy, it is a federal crime, and it causes real problems,” James said in a press release.

Last month, James broke up a deed theft ring that stole more than $1 million from vulnerable homeowners. The crimes took place in the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica and St. Albans. 

On Jan. 13, she issued a consumer alert and wrote a letter of concern to USPS postmaster general Louis DeJoy. In the letter James urges for more resources to combat these thefts. 

“When bad actors steal people’s mail, they have access to personal and financial information that can lead to identity theft, destroyed credit ratings, and serious harm to completely innocent New Yorkers,” she said. 

UPSS notes that the company recently redesigned its mailboxes to be more resistant to theives. However, the tactic has not stopped the thieves who have resorted to stealing the mailboxes in their entirety.  

Tips for increased personal security

Residents are being asked to pick up their mail promptly and avoid leaving things in mailboxes overnight. 

Remember to be cognizant of any valuable mail and keep the post office up to date with current addresses and lengthy absences. 

For added protection, residents may want to consider signing up for USPS’ Informed Delivery service, which provides email notifications for incoming mail and packages.

For those who suspect mail theft, contact police immediately and then report it to Postal Inspectors by calling (877)-876-2455.

In some instances individuals have found their mailboxes tampered with. If glue, tape, or any other sticky substances is visible on a mailbox, report it to your post office, Postal Inspectors, or the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS can be reached at (212) 330-2400.

To ensure personal security, make sure to monitor your credit. Credit monitoring services track your credit report and alert you whenever a change is made, such as a new account or a large purchase. Most services will notify you within 24 hours of any change to your credit report.

To avoid any new credit accounts, individuals can consider placing a free credit freeze. This action blocks identify thefts from opening a new credit account in your name while the freeze is in place. 

Alternatively, individuals can also enable a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert tells lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit. 

For more information about a credit freeze or fraud alert contact one of the three major credit bureaus:

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant, and to protect themselves, their information, and their mail by following our important tips,” said James. 

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, click here for assistance — or contact our office for help by completing and submitting a complaint with the Bureau of Internet and Technology or calling (800) 771-7755.