A new feature designed to prevent mail theft may actually be helping thieves in some cases.
Jim Cook of Lebanon, Ohio is one of tens of thousands of Americans who have signed up for a new Postal Service feature in recent months, that lets you know when important mail is coming.
"Well I just get an email, it comes every day, and it just has pictures of the mail we're going to get," Cook explained.
Earlier this year, Cook and his wife Anne told us they love the new service, officially called Informed Delivery. Now, they check their email every morning.
Informed Delivery is great because it lets you know when an important piece of mail or a check is going to be arriving at your home.
But in some cases, it can also alert a thief to that check, if he happened to sign up for the service before you did.
Thieves sign up, then watch your mail
Capt. Mike Dresell of the Indian Hill, Ohio, Rangers, says a sophisticated group of thieves has stolen mail from at least three, and possibly five homes in Indian Hill the past month.
Dressell believes the very savvy thieves are signing up for Informed Delivery at homes that have not done so yet. They then get alerts about all incoming mail.
"They sign up the resident unbeknownst to them, and they are coming to the house a few days later and taking a piece of mail that has a credit card or something else in it," Dressell said.
In some cases, he believes, they took another step and signed up for credit cards in the homeowner's name, then waited for that card to arrive.
How to protect yourself
If you have not yet signed up for Informed Delivery, there are steps you can take to prevent any possible mail theft.
Dressell says if you call or visit your local Post Office, you can turn off this feature, so that no one can use it.
"You can call and have it blocked so this doesn't happen to you."
Or you can simply sign up for it. The service is free.
Google for USPS Informed Delivery, then enter your name, address, and email, and sign yourself up, so only you will get alerts to incoming mail. (Just make sure you are on the official Post Office website when you do that).
A Postal Service spokeswoman, Naddia Dhalai, told us these victims may have already been identity theft victims before the thieves signed them up.
But the USPS is now tightening the system. The Post Office will now mail you a post card saying that your home has signed up for informed delivery. That way, if you did not sign up for the program, you can stop it immediately.
Unfortunately, that post card can take three days to arrive, enough time for a quick-thinking thief to do their dirty work, and grab a a credit card or check from your mail.
As always don't waste your money.
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