After experiencing what appears to be an uptick in bank fraud cases tied to mail thefts, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith is warning residents to take extra precautions when mailing checks and other documents with personal identifying information.
The blue mail collection boxes, commonly seen outside post offices and at other locations, have become a target for thieves who steal and alter mailed checks and money orders. Criminals use the banking information obtained from the stolen mail to create fake checks and drain victims’ accounts.
While this has been an issue nationwide for years, detectives with the St. Tammany Parish Property Crimes Division, working together with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the local police departments, have seen an increase in these thefts locally, prompting Sheriff Smith to encourage residents to refrain from using the blue mail collection boxes when mailing checks or money orders.
Instead of using the blue collection boxes for outgoing mail, Sheriff Smith suggested the following tips:
- Place outgoing mail into the mail slot inside the lobby of local post office or hand it directly to a postal service worker at the counter.
- If you use a blue collection box, place mail in the box just before the last collection time of the day. This time is usually displayed on the box. The longer mail stays in the box, the more susceptible it is to theft.
- After mailing a check or a money order, confirm with the recipient that they have received it.
Detectives with the St. Tammany Parish Property Crimes Division said they have also had reports of mail being stolen out of clustered mailboxes outside of apartment complexes and businesses.
Most of these thefts also occur during the nighttime hours. To help protect your mail from being stolen, never leave mail sitting in your box overnight. Check your mailbox as soon as you get home in the evening and wait until morning to leave your outgoing mail.