Mail theft is on the rise in Lathrop.
And that means thieves are likely to strike as well in Manteca and Ripon.
According to the Lathrop Police Department, there has been a noticeable spike in the number of mail theft calls that officers have been responding to recently – particularly at community mailboxes shared by neighborhoods.
Those types of mailboxes are commonly targeted by thieves because they contain an abundance of mail and access to all of the boxes is possible by breaching the container – increasing the likelihood of finding the sorts of mail that they’re after.
While the agency has been increasing the number of specialized checks on mailboxes that have been targeted or appear to be potential targets – and is actively encouraging the public that notices anything suspicious to contact them – they’re also making recommendations for consumers to protect themselves against the possibility of identity theft through common mail.
The Lathrop Police are currenting encouraging residents to sign up for “informed delivery” through the United States Postal Service. It’s a free service that allows customers to know which mail will be delivered on a given day so that residents can clear mailboxes of any potentially-valuable items before thieves get the chance to strike.
The program allows customers to see photographs of mail delivered to their email each morning so that plans can be made to clear mailboxes as close to the delivery time as possible.
Residents that are concerned about credit card offers containing personal information being sent unsolicited through the mail can also take advantage of another program offered by the consumer credit reporting agencies.
Known as “opt out pre-screen” the program prevents consumers from receiving paper mail from credit card companies and creditors offering lines of credit – much the same way the national Do Not Call list is supposed to prevent residents from getting solicitation calls.
Other ways to safeguard
mail, your ID & to reduce
odds of becoming a victim
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office often reminds residents that low tech ID theft — via mail theft — is still a way many people become victims of fraudulent financial transactions using their name.
Advice the DA’s office passes on regarding ID theft and financial fraud that shows no sign of abating include:
*Taking outgoing mail and dropping it in a blue postal box or into a drop slot inside a post office.
*Retrieve your incoming mail every day with no exceptions.
*Minimizing your “foot print” by having no more than three credit cards — one for larger purchases, one that has a fairly low spending limit, and one that is an ATM card to access bank accounts.
*Record all of your credit card information and how to contact firms in a safe place at home so you can immediately call them when you either lose cards or if they are stolen.
*Don’t ever provide information on any of your accounts to someone that calls you even if it is PG&E threatening to cut off your power in three days. Instead hang up, go to your statement and call the number on that and not one that the caller may have given you — and ask the representative that answers whether they are trying to contact you.
*Check your credit report twice a year to look for unauthorized activity. Adams noted banks typically provide one free credit report a year.
*Remembering that the Internal Revenue Service does not call taxpayers out of the blue — period. Their communication is always by snail mail although if you have an established conversation going with the IRS they may conduct that by phone.
*Never fall for the “grandma scam” where a young relative is calling up in desperate need of help. Always try to call the parents or even the young relative in question back using numbers that you have and not the ones the caller provides to try and verify if there is an issue..
Anybody with any questions about how to protect themselves against mail theft or anyone with information about the recent string of mailbox thefts is encouraged to contact Lathrop Police Detective Ashlyn Howard at 209.647.6408.
To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.