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December 9, 2018

How the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery can either help you or help scammers steal your identity

November 17, 2018
A recent Postal Service feature that sends digital previews of mail to residents that sign up for it has been taken advantage of by some crooks committing identity fraud. (Image Source / Getty Images)

These thieves have mail-icious intent.

A new Postal Service feature that’s designed to let consumers monitor their incoming mail is making it easier for crooks to steal their identity.




Called Informed Delivery, the feature sends subscribers digital previews of the outside of letter-size mail that’s set to arrive at their homes. The United States Postal Service introduced the free option in select areas in 2014, but has since rolled it out to nearly every zip code in the country.

“More than 13 million users are enjoying the benefits and rewards of Informed Delivery,” USPS spokesman Xavier C. Hernandez told the Daily News.

But some people are suffering from the downside of the service.

The Secret Service last week sent out an internal warning that many of its field offices have reported scammers are using Informed Delivery to help them carry out identity theft and credit card fraud, according to the cybercrime blog KrebsOnSecurity.com.

Called Informed Delivery, this Postal Service feature sends those who sign up for it scans of mail set to arrive at their homes.
Called Informed Delivery, this Postal Service feature sends those who sign up for it scans of mail set to arrive at their homes. (USPS)

The Nov. 6 alert sent to the Secret Service’s law enforcement partners across the country pointed to a recent case in Michigan, where seven people were arrested for allegedly stealing credit cards from mailboxes after posing as victims by signing up for Informed Delivery, Krebs reports.

The alleged rip-off artists used Informed Delivery “to identify and intercept mail, and to further their identity theft fraud schemes,” the Secret Service memo read. “Fraudsters were also observed on criminal forums discussing using the Informed Delivery service to surveil potential identity theft victims.”

The Postal Service, in an e-mail to the Daily News, downplayed the extent of fraud committed via Informed Delivery, but acknowledged that, “Unfortunately, in very few cases, an individual’s identity has already been compromised by a criminal who then has used it to set up an Informed Delivery account.”

Creating a fraudulent account is of course illegal. Those who have been victimized can report a potentially fraudulent Informed Delivery account by calling the USPS’ Technical Support at 1-800-344-7779 or filing a complaint online. Customers must provide their full name, mailing address, phone number, email address and the fraud committed. They can request that a specific account at an address be blocked, or that no Informed Delivery accounts be allowed for the address at all.

“The Postal Service follows industry best practices to verify the identity of subscribers to Informed Delivery,” Hernandez said. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates all confirmed cases of fraud, but does not release information regarding active fraud investigations.”

On the other hand, Informed Delivery can be helpful for those who want a sneak peek of what they’ll find in their mailbox, and also help them identify theft or missing mail if a parcel they saw in their e-mail scan doesn’t end up at their home.

“Informed Delivery is on the cutting edge of communication trends by helping people manage their mail and make the most of it,” Hernandez said.

Those who want to sign up can visit informeddelivery.usps.com, where they’ll have to create an account, verify their identity and choose how to receive notifications.

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