Tax season is here whether you like it or not. What may be a dreaded time for some is a very exciting time for others, specifically mail thieves.
Mail theft is a major issue during tax season, since thieves know that personal information delivered to your mailbox may be ripe for the taking. Credit card applications are a jackpot for identity thieves year-round, but at tax time, their focus turns to W-2s. W-2s include Social Security numbers, birth dates and salaries, which credit card applications do not.
The information contained in a W-2 offers mail thieves the chance to open credit cards, bank or other accounts with the victim’s data, as well as to make purchases and even apply for a job.
Even with some companies offering their employees electronic W-2 forms, the danger remains that personal information stolen from somewhere else can be used to create a fake W-2 under the victim’s name.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid having your tax information stolen:
- When sending mail, use the letter slots inside your Post Office™ or hand it directly to a letter carrier.
- Pick up your mail promptly after delivery—never leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you are expecting checks, credit cards, W-2s or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
- If you do not receive a check, W-2 or other valuable mail you are expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office™ and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
- Never send cash in the mail.
- Tell your Post Office™ when you will be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
- Report all suspected mail theft to a Postal Inspector and the San Ramon Police Department.
- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (and homes). You can contact Crime Prevention Specialist, Darlene Kittredge 925-973-2720 to set up a neighborhood watch group.
- Consult with your local Postmaster, at 925-277-0567, for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked, centralized, or curbside mailboxes.
Again, these are just a few steps you can take to protect yourself during this Tax season.