Like garbage cans, unsecured mailboxes can be goldmines for identity thieves.
Bank statements and bills contain personal identifiers that could prompt sophisticated impersonators to attempt to hijack accounts. Pre-approved credit card offers are invitations for crooks to open new lines of credit under other people’s names. Basic junk mailings contain names and addresses that could attract dumpster-divers who sell contact information as leads to outside marketers.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 50 percent of junk mail is discarded—not recycled.
To counter these epidemics, Better Business Bureau recommends the following:
- Retrieve mail quickly. Notify the Post Office to hold mail if out of town.
- Consider investing in locking mailboxes or P.O. Boxes.
- Shred unneeded mail; do not just throw it away.
- Go paperless with secure online statements.
- Avoid signing up for unnecessary programs or services.
- Opt-out from bulk mailing lists.
At BBB’s Secure Your ID Day on Oct. 20, 2012, local consumers and business owners will be securely shredding junk mail and other personal documents—and all shreddings will be recycled. BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington offers proactive resources to help reduce unwanted paperwork.
Unsolicited Mail: Contact the Direct Marketing Association at 212-768-7277—ext. 1888—or dmachoice.org.
Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers: Contact the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry at 1-888-567-8688 or optoutprescreen.com.
Catalogs, Coupons and Resident Mailings: Ask senders directly. Contact Epsilon, Abacus, and Shopper’s Voice at 1-888-780-3870, 1-888-780-3869 or epsilon.com. Contact Valassis and RedPlum at 1-800-437-0479—ext. 3—or redplum.com. Contact Cox Target Media and Valpak at 1-800-499-0473—press # and ext. 2—or coxtarget.com.
Other tools include: catalogchoice.org; paperkarma.com; and 41pounds.org. Learn more at reduce.org and bbb.org.