ID theft a threat after mailbox tampering



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Posted on November 25, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 8:25 PM

AUSTIN -- The United States Postal Service says it's investigating the possibility of stolen mail from a neighborhood in South Austin between Davis Lane and Slaughter.

Mailboxes were found left open, and mail was found ripped open and laying on the ground. Donna Kothmann found someone's home loan information, as well as someone's credit card lying near her house. She picked up the mail after a neighbor contacted her.

"She said that my mailbox was open and that some of the mail was on the street," said Kothmann.

She says someone opened mailboxes along several blocks. Even a day later on Monday, it only took a drive around the neighborhood to find a bank statement lying in the street, as well as a ripped open envelope from a financial institution.

"I assume they are looking for identities, possibly for a check to cash," said Kothmann.

If you come home and find someone has gone through your mailbox, the Better Business Bureau has some advice to help protect your credit and your identity.

"Make sure you contact you banking institution. The other thing is make sure you contact the three credit reporting agencies to put a red flag on your credit report," said Erin Dufner, Senior Vice President of Communications for the BBB in Austin.

She says people can also steal your identity through any kind of credit card offers.

"It's very easy for identity thieves to take that information, fill it out on your behalf, change the address and submit it and boom." Dufner said.

She adds that it's important to protect your information, especially when you go out of town. She says it's smart to have your mail held at the post office, ask neighbors to pick up your newspapers, and don't post your agenda on social media.

Otherwise you could be inviting theft.

Kothmann worries someone might be looking for holiday cards or gifts.

"Which I don't ever send cash, but some people do," said Kothmann.

USPS says it wants anyone affected, or if you know who might have done this, to contact them at 512-342-1540. They will then give you further information about what needs to be done.

For tips on preventing identity theft go here. The BBB also has tips here.