BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — If you think about all the personal and important information that is delivered through mail, you will understand why thieves target mailboxes, looking for credit card info, and medical data among other things.
However, this problem can be reduced or minimized by following some safety measures and practices.
It's important for people to keep an eye out for signs of mail theft, as it can oftentimes lead to fraud or identity theft.
One thing you can do to avoid mail theft is to the ensure you check your mailbox on a regular basis so that it doesn’t sit unattended overnight, and that’s just one of the many tips to keep in mind.
Matthew Norfleet, United States Postal Inspector said, “Unfortunately, it has been occurring in Kern County, it has been an ongoing problem.”
That ongoing problem is mail theft. Thieves are looking to steal personal information from important items that arrive in your mailbox.
While it may be tempting to stop a theft from occurring, no mail is worth risking your safety, said Norfleet.
“Please call 911 and share that information with your local law enforcement. But do not try to engage the mail thieves. As much as we value the mail, everything in the mail is replaceable, and please don’t put yourselves in danger trying to intervene in a mail theft.”
Norfleet added that Kern County residents who are concerned about the security of their mail, should have it delivered to their local post office boxes for more security. There are also other options to help protect your information.
“You can also hold your mail, go online to usps.gov, and have your mail held. Especially if you're going to be out of town and you're not going to be there to pick up your mail, please use a vacation hold,” Norfleet said.
How can you prevent mail theft from happening? On the Bakersfield city website there are several tips including:
- Do not leave outgoing mail in your unlocked mailbox
- Deposit mail like checks or documents at your local post office
- Consider having regular income checks deposited electronically
“We find often that the mail gets looked through and the mail that's not immediately valuable gets discarded. You’d be surprised of all the different types of things that people are able to use that are taken from the mail,” cautioned Norfleet.
Norfleet also said that if you’ve been a victim of mail theft, you can report it online to the United States Postal Inspection Services. He also said that people can use a postal service tracking confirmation service to manage the flow of their incoming mail.