During a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, people do not consider their mail when evacuating. After you leave, your mail will accumulate in your mailbox until the hurricane arrives. Once USPS resumes service, mail will continue to accumulate until your return. All that mail is just sitting there in your unlocked mailbox waiting for someone to retrieve it. That someone could be a thief instead of you.
To prevent this, you can register online for an online account with the United States Postal Service. The service is called My USPS. To create your online account visit USPS.com and click on “Register/Sign In” located at the top right corner of the webpage. Once your account has been established you can take advantage of many of the services offered such as mail hold and mail forwarding. The greatest benefit is that everything can be done from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Another technique used by bad guys is to forward your mail to their address. The process to do this is easier than you may think. If you have not set-up your My USPS account, you leave it wide open for a bad guy to do it on your behalf. Once the account has been established the bad guy will request, using the online account, to have your mail forwarded to his address. However, online is not the only way to request mail forwarding. There is an even easier way to do it.
A bad guy can walk in to any post office and complete a mail forward request form. Now your mail will be forwarded to his address. Proof of identity is not required. Simply fill out the card and that is it. The bad guys watch the news to determine which areas are under mandatory evacuation and which areas were hardest hit by the storm. They know that there is a good chance that you could be displaced from your home or preoccupied with clean-up that you will not notice the lack of mail. If you had set up your My USPS account, you would have been able to check for any mail forwarding requests.
There is one more service you can take advantage of to monitor for mail related theft. The “informed delivery” service offered by the USPS enables you to see what will be delivered to your mailbox in advance. As mail is scanned by the USPS an image of the envelope is captured. With informed delivery you will receive a daily email displaying the captured image of the mail to be delivered to your mailbox. However, there are occasions where a piece of mail could be delayed by a day or two. Informed delivery is a great tool to help you monitor for mail theft.