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Chapter 2. MAKING YOURSELF LESS VULNERAB... > Mailboxes and Identity Theft

Mailboxes and Identity Theft

Most mailboxes come equipped with small red flags that when raised indicate the owner of the mailbox has outgoing mail to be picked up by the mailman. They also can serve as an invitation to identity thieves to raid your mail. An old fashioned, but still viable, form of stolen mail identity theft occurs when your mail, containing checks to creditors such as credit card companies or your mortgage payment, is grabbed by an identity thief. The thief performs a process known as “check washing” through which the amount of the check and the name of the payee is changed from the person or business to which you made out the check to the name of the identity thief. Common household cleaning products such as bleach can be used to “wash” the check and remove the name of the payee. The check is then rewritten payable to the identity thief in an amount of the thief's choosing.

It is not just your outgoing mail that is fodder for identity thieves. Mail left in your mailbox by the mailman can include new credit cards, Social Security checks, income tax refunds, credit card applications and credit card statements as well as other documents that can be utilized for identity theft purposes.


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