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Select a topic from our most recent column – February 7, 2007

What to do when someone is tampering with your mail

Dear Max,

Lately, someone has been tampering with my family's mail. Mail pieces that contain card-like shapes have been rubbed down so that an impression of the card shows through on the outside of the envelope, and the mail piece containing my wife's renewed driver's license arrived opened (or at least unsealed). What should I do?

- YSS

Dear YSS,

The first thing you should do is contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can find the local number in your telephone book, on the Internet, or by visiting your local U.S. Post Office.

Tampering with U.S. mail is a violation of federal law, and the Postal Inspection Service will be able to advise you on how such matters are investigated and prosecuted.

The Department of Motor Vehicles for your state might have special processes to reissue the drivers license with a new number so that the one in the open envelope cannot be used for fraudulent purposes. Your local DMV office should be able to tell you if that is the case.

Contact the credit card companies about the envelopes that had been rubbed to obtain the account numbers. They possibly could issue new cards with new numbers as a precaution against fraud. Review all of your account statements carefully for signs that fraudulent charges were made.

You also should review copies of your credit reports. If there is any indication of credit fraud or identity theft you can add a security alert to help stop further activity. You also will be able contact those lenders to notify them of the fraud and close the accounts.

Finally, to prevent future tampering, you might consider a lockable mailbox. Contact the U.S. Postal Service for more information about your delivery options.

Thanks for asking.


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