Identity theft claims many victims every year. One way thieves can steal your identity is by rummaging through your mailbox.
The United States Postal Service is hoping a new partnership with the Federal Trade Commission will teach people how to protect themselves. Part of their efforts is sending out a packet of information which tells people for what exactly they need to look.
"We hate to see our customers taken advantage of due to someone else's criminal activity," says Roy Smith, a post office customer service manager.
Smith says he is glad for their partnership with the FTC to help teach people how to better protect their identity. The pamphlet suggests people shred documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers and bank account information.
It also suggests people should be on alert for things like bills that do not arrive when expected, unexpected account statements, or calls and letters about purchases you did not make. Most importantly, it says you should empty your mailbox everyday.
Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, says, "the number one key is just make sure any information you have that's sensitive or you wouldn't want somebody else to have, don't leave it in position where somebody else can get it."
Martin continue, "People used to put checks in their mailbox to go out with the mail. Take that to the post office or put it in the mailbox itself. Don't just leave it out there sitting on your front porch."
He recalls one case in which a woman defrauded her neighbor for a substantial amount of money.
"She's going to jail for a good long while, but what that basically demonstrates is, it's sort of like the old saying trust but verify," says Martin. "It could be your neighbor. Someone that seems completely innocent in the situation."
The packet also says if you feel you have been the victim of identity fraud, you should report it to the FTC immediately by calling 1-877-438-4338.