Identify thieves have devised a bold way to steal people’s identities: right from their mailboxes. Criminals are stealing documents from mailboxes to commit tax and other financial crimes. This has been an unfortunate reality for many people who found out too late that their most sensitive information had been taken.
Investigators uncovered a massive identity theft scam where the thieves were found to be stealing people’s identities from their mailboxes. The documents that these individuals were lifting were credit card applications and checks. They were using this information stolen to make false checks, credit cards and identification cards. It is believed that tax scammers may also be using this method to steal personal information to file fraudulent tax returns.
“Right now we have about 127 victims of stolen mail and taking the I-D’s from those people and using that information,” said Detective Kris Hall, a Georgia detective who recently broke up a fraud ring. “They were opening up bank accounts in their own name, and flooding those bank accounts with fraudulent checks, then withdrawing the money before they (the bank) realized that the checks were fraudulent.”
People are warned not to put checks in their mailboxes or to leave them there unattended. To ensure the safety of their information, they may mail them directly from the Post Office or hand them over to the mail carrier.
As taxpayers are expecting important tax documents such as W2s and 1099s in their mail, tax scammers may target these items during the filing season. The IRS also sends notices regarding changes in tax status, tax amounts owed, etc. through the mail. This tax season, taxpayers should be cautious in how they handle their affairs.