A little known service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) is helping criminals commit identity theft. USPS’s Informed Delivery service enables most residential postal customers to digitally preview their mail online on the morning of delivery.
Signing up for USPS’s Informed Delivery service requires providing your name, address and email. To validate your identity, you must answer four multiple-choice knowledge-based authentication (KBA) questions. Unfortunately, KBA is an unreliable method for authentication because the answers to many of these questions are available through data broker and social networking sites or from information leaked in data breaches. This provides an opportunity for criminals to create an account in your name.
According to an internal U.S. Secret Service Alert, Informed Delivery is being used by criminals “to identify and intercept mail, and to further their identity theft fraud schemes.” In addition to monitoring your mailbox for other important and valuable mail to steal, this means a thief could
- apply for a credit card in your name
- have it sent to your home address
- steal it before you are able to retrieve your mail by using Informed Delivery to find out when the credit card will be delivered to your home
Here are some steps you can take to help prevent this from happening:
- either sign up for Informed Delivery so you can monitor your own mail or request that it be blocked by sending an email to eSAFE@usps.gov with your name, address, phone number and email address
- use a locked mailbox
- freeze your credit reports to prevent the opening of new credit accounts in your name
If you have a story about your experience with Informed Delivery, please share it with us!