Mail theft is on the rise! AARP + USPS warns

Updated: Nov 18

Data from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service shows mail theft increased by 600% from 2017 to 2022. These criminals will steal mail directly from your mailbox to gain access to any personal information that might be within them. Make sure you are monitoring your mailbox as frequently as possible, especially when expecting mail with personal information like a new credit card.


According to AARP: "Criminals will get their hands on what are known as arrow keys, designed to open multiple mailboxes within a certain area. Arrow keys are often stolen from mail carriers in what can be extremely violent robberies and are sold on the black market for $5,000 to $10,000, according to Donahue. Thieves will then “wash” the stolen checks with a basic household chemical that can dissolve many kinds of ink, says Mark Solomon, vice president of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators. This allows them to “make it out to whomever they want, change the dollar amount and forge the customer signature from the check. Sometimes they can even put some superglue over the signature of the check while washing it, to keep the [original] signature.”


Red Flags of Mail Theft:


Make sure you are frequently monitoring your physical mailbox for signs of identity theft.


The most obvious red flag is any unfamiliar or suspicious mail like credit card statements or letters from companies you don’t recognize. This can often be a sign of bank account or loan fraud - meaning, someone could be applying for loans or new credit cards in your name.


or If you get a letter in the mail from unemployment with information about benefits you never claimed, you are most likely the victim of identity theft.



What to do if you are a victim of Mail Theft, according to AARP:


1. Report suspected mail losses to the USPIS, which uses such reports to identify problem areas and where to focus crime investigations, at uspis.gov/report, or by calling 877-876-2455. The agency is offering a $10,000 reward for information and services leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for “theft, possession, destruction or obstruction of mail.”


2. Notify your bank. If you’re a victim of check fraud, you will usually not be held responsible and financial institutions are likely to make you whole again.


3. Report the theft to local law enforcement so you’ll have a police report documenting the crime.