Beware of Postal Identity Theft! Part I

You'd think that the U.S. Postal Service would be on your side when it comes to postal identity theft—think again

Be careful, folks: postal identity theft is on the rise. In the burgeoning world of consumer fraud, you might say that it's number one with a bullet.

Now, I'm not talking about the identity thief's old standby of cadging personal information from stolen mail, or even from unshredded bills or personal records found in the trash. That's pretty much old hat. Postal ID theft takes it to a new level, using an accomplice you probably wouldn't expect: the USPS itself.

What!

Yes, by USPS I'm talking about the venerable United States Postal Service, old "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of night" itself. And yes, government agencies are supposed to protect and serve us, as naïve as that may sound.

Well, identity thieves found a loophole in the practices of the USPS , and recently, they've been exploiting the heck out of it. It's a pretty obvious one, too.

Identity theft by mail, it seems, is easy as pie. You know those change of address cards the Post Office so helpfully provides to anyone who asks? Well, you can fill those things out for anybody, not just yourself. In short, anyone can have anyone else's mail diverted anywhere!

You gotta be kidding me

Nope! All it takes is for some crumbum to fill out a little paper card and send it to the Post Office. They don't even charge postage.

Actually, you don't even have to submit a physical card anymore. You can do it online., as long as you avow and aver that you are, in fact, "the person, executor, guardian, authorized officer, or agent of the person for whom mail would be forwarded under this order." Ha! Good one, USPS!

OMG! You mean...?

That's right. Your bills, bank statements, credit cards, naughty magazines, letters from Aunt Thelma, those Yu-Gi-Oh! cards you ordered last week, and even your Nosepicker's Newsletter could end up in someone else's mailbox. The junk mail, too, except for that stuff marked "Occupant."

After all, it's not like the USPS is going to actually check before they send your mail elsewhere. They're too big, too busy, and too understaffed. They should know better, but they really don't expect people to interfere with the U.S. mail. After all, that would be a federal crime.

Oh, wait.

Well, geez, what do I do?

I'm glad you asked....but alas, I'm afraid I've run out of space for this article.

What, a cliffhanger on my website? Well, yes. But fear not, good reader: in the next exciting episode, I'll show you how to handle this scourge we call postal identity theft.

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