Whether you’re sending holiday cards or gifts, or just mailing your monthly rent check, you may want to avoid using those large, blue collection boxes—at least for the next few months, United States Postal Service (USPS) officials have advised.
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Not only have reports of mail fraud and theft been on the rise year-round, the crimes tend to peak during the holiday season—and those blue mailboxes are becoming more frequent targets. Here’s what to know.
According to USPS officials, “groups of criminals across the country are using the internet and social media to coordinate strategic targeting of post office collection boxes,” AL.com reports. In other words, people you probably don’t want having access to your mail.
If you do opt to use the blue collection boxes, be sure to do so before the last collection of the day, so your mail isn’t sitting in there overnight. (The time should be listed on the front of the box.) This is especially true on Saturday, as the mail would be in there overnight, plus all of Sunday.
In addition to avoiding the blue collection boxes, here are a few other tips from experts at the USPS to help ensure your mail ends up in the right hands:
- “One of the best things that you can do is hand it off directly to your postal carrier, obviously, then it’s already in their hands, and it’s into the system,” United States Postal Inspector Paul Shade told KY3.
- “The other option would be to take it directly into the post office,” Shade added. “And obviously, it would have to be during regular business hours, but that’s the most secure way to protect your mail.”
- Never send cash in the mail. If it’s stolen, consider it gone.
- If you expect to receive something of value in the mail, let the sender know when (and if) you’ve received it. Similarly, if you’re sending someone something valuable, (partially) ruin the surprise and let them know that a package is on its way.
- Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery, so you know when your mail is arriving.
To report mail theft or fraud, notify your local law enforcement as well as the United States Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455, or filling out a form on their website.