Understanding how to prevent identity theft is useful for everyone. One way criminals get the information for this crime is through mail theft. Over 2600 instances of mail being stolen were reported in 2017/18, and this only accounts for the ones people are aware of!
Information that fraudsters need
The following documents and information are valuable to ID fraudsters, and commonly feature in postal items:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- National Insurance Number
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Employment history
- Credit cards
- Bank statements/ information
- Universal credit information
- Cheque books
- Tax information
- Utility bills
If you receive mail with this information, you’re at risk of falling victim to identity theft.
Why mail theft and identity fraud are linked
Mail can provide fraudsters with a lot of the information they need to commit a crime. It’s also reasonably easy to intercept someone’s mail, especially if they’re away from an address or living in shared accommodation.
If you’re living in shared housing, whether that’s a block of flats or in a shared home, you’ll likely have a dedicated area of the building that you receive mail too. Fraudsters will target these locations as they have access to multiple mailboxes at once, with a low risk of the homeowner being present.
Away from home
Being away from home for any period of time leaves your mail at risk. Fraudsters will monitor areas and take note of accumulated post and brimming postboxes.
If you move home and receive mail to your old address, how reliable is the new tenant? You might not have ever met them, nor will you ever. Although the new occupier might not be a fraudster, your mail may be left in a shared area of a building or disposed of without being shredded.
Avoid being a mail theft victim
Although the threat of mail theft is genuine, there are steps that you can take to diminish your chance of becoming a victim significantly. It’s good practice to shred and burn post containing information that is valuable for fraudsters. But realistically, are you always going to do this, and what happens to intercepted mail you never get to read?
Contacting your providers
Whenever you move address, make sure everyone knows. The longer that you delay updating your information, the more at risk you could be. Who you’ll need to contact depends on the services you’ve signed up for, but this is a generic list that applies to most people.
- Family and friends
- Bank and financial institutions
- Insurance providers
- Utility companies
- Monthly subscriptions (i.e. breakdown cover, magazines)
- Public bodies (i.e. HMRC, local council)
- Health services (i.e. dentist, doctor)
Redirect your mail away from criminals
Setting up a mail redirection service is a great way to reduce the likelihood of identity fraud. It will stop post being sent to an old address and being handled by strangers. However, setting up mail redirection from an old to a new address can still leave you exposed.
How to prevent identity theft: UK Postbox Mail Redirection Address
Your privacy is of paramount importance to the service we provide, so we’ve implemented a process to support that claim. When mail is sent to UK Postbox’s secure facility, our on-site team will receive it and scan into our computerised system. UK Postbox premises are entirely private, so there’s no risk of fraudsters accessing our site. We’ll also handle the proper disposal and shredding of any mail items. These actions will prevent the most common ways identity thieves access your mail.
Here’s what you need to do and how it works:
- When setting up a Royal Mail Redirection Service, you can use one of our Redirection Addresses to redirect to.
- UK Postbox then receive your mail at our secure mailing facility.
- We’ll assign a barcode to each individual mail item and scan your postal envelope.
- You’ll receive a notification via our mail management app that you’ve received mail.
- You tell us what you’d like done with your letter, and we’ll make it happen for you.
- All UK Postbox services operate on a secure, encrypted system, so you’re not exposed to digital theft.