It's a tool that is supposed to help you see what's coming in the mail, but one man said thieves used it to try and steal his identity.
It all started with a text message in 2018. Chris Staros' credit card company alerted him his new card was on the way. Staros knew he never ordered a new card.
"I said, 'well where did the card get mailed to?'" Staros said. "They said to your home address."
It never arrived.
"What I didn’t realize was that they had impersonated me and opened up an informed delivery account at the USPS," Staros explained.
Informed delivery, a feature offered by the U.S. postal service, allows you to digitally preview mail before it gets to your mailbox. In Staros' case, he says criminals were looking at his mail and redirecting individual pieces of mail to another address.
"It is scary to know that you’re that vulnerable," he said.
Staros shut down the account and filed a police report. The police offered up some tips to protect his identity, but didn't arrest anyone since nothing was stolen. It turns out, the thieves were not done yet. Soon, his home phone stopped working and phone company techs alerted Staros to a new problem.
"They realized that my home phone number had been ported away," he said.
Someone used the number to log into his email and change his passwords
"I got locked out of my email," he said. "They were trying to get a hold of my cellphones so that in the end they would be me and I wouldn’t be me."
This time, they were able to get a new credit card. Staros called to cancel the card and couldn't believe what the operator was telling him. During that call, they could see someone worknig around in his system, changing information again. They shut the account down, and in the end the thieves only got away with 41 dollars. Staros believes keeping tabs on his accounts and having a credit freeze in place saved him.
Lori Silverman agrees. She works for consumer advisor Clark Howard in his Consumer Action Center.
"They weren't able to use his idenity to open up bank accounts or new credit cards or any of that in his name," Silverman said.
She also suggests setting up an informed delivery account for yourself and every person in your household. She says once you open up an account, no one else can open one up in your name.
The post office inspector general said, despite this incident, the number of customers reporting suspicious transactions is very small at less than one tenth of one percent. You can report any suspicious activity to the postal service online or by calling 1-800-344-7779.
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