The flag up on your mailbox is not just a signal to the mailman, but to the crook as well. And while you might be thinking, “don't they feel just a little bit bad for taking my money right out of my mailbox?”….
“They will report it as fraud, they were never going to lose no money and everything at the end of the day everybody is happy. I get my money – they don't lose nothing.” That is a convicted felon's rationale for stealing personal checks and credit cards out of mailboxes.
You heard him say the victims don't lose anything. But you do lose something - time. You have to get a new card and close old accounts.
Then there is the lack of peace of mind; What other information do they have?
You want to make sure you protect your personal information by not handing thieves the information they need. The flag up indicated that there was outgoing mail, which is usually a check to pay a phone bill, a check to pay electricity, a check to pay a car payment.
The conman explains, “you have access to those bank accounts, which you can alter the numbers on it – you can re-print your own checks.”
In this case, with this particular con-man, 1,000 people lost more than $70,000 simply by having their checks stolen!
What can you do? If you still write checks for bills, don't leave them in your personal mailbox. Use mailboxes or the letter slots at the post office.
And never leave items with personal information in your mailbox overnight.
If you bank online you still need to take precautions. Never pay your bills while you're at Starbucks or on some other public WiFi.
And opt for two-factor authentication, meaning you will have to use a password and then get an email or text with another code. It takes more of your time, but it's an extra level of safety.