Scammers can steal your identity just by using your address

Dear John: You may think you have heard it all, but you haven’t.

Just before Memorial Day last year, we realized we weren’t receiving any mail. We went to the post office and fortunately ran into our postman headed in for the day.

We asked about our mail and he said, “It’s going to your Philadelphia address for two weeks.”

We don’t have a Philadelphia address. Someone filed a forwarding on our mail. They then intercepted checking account statements, credit card bills, etc., then ordered new checks and applied for new debit and credit cards.

The post office said anyone can do it. We asked if you needed ID and were told no, you can do it online.

And the fakers who file the forwarding order get a personal identification number (PIN) that is needed to reverse the fraudulent order.

Call the postmaster general and check it out. All someone needs is your home address. The rest is elementary. Now you’ve heard it all. F.J.

Dear F.J.: I bet someone can top that. I wonder if you can have only your bills sent somewhere else.

I was hoping you were going to say that the postal police went to the Philly address and arrested the scoundrels, but I guess no such luck.

Thanks for warning others. Everyone, if your mail delivery looks unusual, check with the post office.

Dear John: I enjoyed your article about the low-tech post office “scam.” Please be aware, however, that there is another similar technique being used and the USPS doesn’t seem to care a whit about it.

A few months ago, I happened across a large pile of mail on the side of the road. Out of curiosity, I examined it, and discovered that while most envelopes had been opened, all were addressed to different recipients. The entire bundle of 100 to 200 pieces of mail were held together with a glue-like substance. It was clear that a thief had poured this goo into a mailbox (all had been mailed from the same box), and simply pulled the entire bundle out as one big mass. All of these pieces of mail were permanently glued together in one big lump.

For what it’s worth, I took the time to notify, by various means, all of the people who I could see had been victimized. I notified them of missing rent and utility checks, and even forwarded some personal mail along with a note of explanation to all.

I also notified the post office. It seemed extremely uninterested in my report. I made a number of attempts to speak with anybody who might eventually care.

I am convinced that mail theft investigation is a very low priority to many (most?) postmasters. K.C.

Dear K.C.: Did you see an envelope in the bundle to me from Publishers Clearing House? I’m expecting a check.

I don’t know what to say. I’ve personally had very few problems with the US Postal Service. But when I hear these stories, I’m grateful that e-mail was invented.

Dear John: Postal crooks also wrap a wire coat hanger with double-sided tape and put it down the chute. They can lift light envelopes containing checks right up. V.T.

Dear V.T.: Thanks.

Imagine what these crooks could accomplish if they decided to get legitimate jobs.


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