If you live in a block of flats you could be a target for criminals stealing your mail from your letter box in order to commit card fraud and ID theft, according to Financial Fraud Action.
Apparently there has been a spike in these cases in recent weeks, according to police.
Known by its technical name, ‘mail non-receipt’ fraud has increased 10% to £5.0 million, in the first half of 2014.
The scam involves criminals gaining access to blocks of flats and stealing mail from communal letter boxes which can be broken, unlocked or sometimes never used at all, as mail is just left at the entrance door.
The criminals commit different frauds depending on the nature of the personal information they have managed to steal.
Documents and mail containing personal and financial information are particularly valuable to fraudsters. Any containing debit and credit cards can be used to fraudulently buy high-end goods or withdraw cash. Cheque books can also be stolen and used to make fraudulent transactions.
Even when fraudsters fail to get their hands on documents containing financial information, there is still a treasure trove of information they can exploit.
They could steal utility bills that are then use them to commit ID theft or to make bogus loan claims.
Even the most basic of personal data can be used . Phone scammers who impersonate the police or bank are able to make their calls more convincing by using the information gleaned from stolen documents.
What can you do to protect your mail?
- Make sure your letterbox, or the place where your mail is left for you, is secure and cannot be accessed by anyone else. Report any damage to your landlord or letting agent immediately.
- Don’t leave mail uncollected for long periods of time – pick it up as regularly as possible.
- If you are changing your address make sure you tell your bank, card issuer and other important organisations that you deal with immediately.
- If you are not going to be able to pick up your mail for a few days, ensure that someone trustworthy can collect it instead, or consider using a mail collection service.
- Know the dates you are due to receive bills and bank statements, and where possible receive these documents electronically.
- If your bank offers the option, consider picking up new cards or chequebooks in person.
- On moving house, use a mail redirection service.
- If you suspect your mail has been stolen, contact the sender immediately and Royal Mail.
- If you move house or flat, make a point of changing your address details as soon as possible with your bank, and other important organisations, to ensure sensitive mail doesn’t fall in to the wrong hands.
The latest intelligence suggests that areas currently affected by mail theft for the purposes of fraud are
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