ID Thieves Exploit Snail Mail

A new mail tracking service provided by the United States Postal Service has a loophole that ID thieves can take advantage of.

Close-up Of Man's Hand Taking Letter From Mailbox Outside House
(Image credit: Andrey Popov (Andrey Popov (Photographer) - [None])

Informed Delivery, a free service provided by the U.S. Postal Service, offers a convenient way to track your mail—but it could also make you more vulnerable to identity theft.

When you sign up for Informed Delivery (opens in new tab), the USPS will e-mail you scanned images of your unopened letters, including credit card statements and utility bills, before they arrive in your mailbox. The service also lets users see the delivery status of a package, provide delivery instructions and set up a redelivery.

Here’s the catch: Anyone can sign up for Informed Delivery, using their own e-mail address and your name and mailing address. That means an identity thief could, say, open a credit card in your name, sign up for Informed Delivery to track when the card hits your mailbox, and steal it before you retrieve your mail. He or she could also use the service to poach packages left on your porch.

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The easiest way to avoid this problem is to beat the bad guys to the punch. Only one e-mail per user is allowed for the service, so if you sign up for an Informed Delivery account at informeddelivery.usps.com (opens in new tab), scammers won’t be able to impersonate you and hijack your mail. Once you sign up online, you should receive a confirmation in the mail.

Rivan V. Stinson
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. She's now a staff writer for the magazine and helps produce content for Kiplinger.com. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher.