USPS Mail Identity Theft: What You Need to Know

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As our world becomes more and more saturated with technology, it’s now possible to do almost anything online. You can check your bank account balance, transfer money and pay your bills. Heck, you can even run a business online these days.

Even as we move deeper and deeper into the Information Age, there are still a number of people (and companies) who send and receive important information the “old fashioned way” – via the US Postal Service. Most of us still check the mailbox regularly, and it’s fair to say that the majority of Americans receive at least several pieces of “snail mail” every day.

What, then, should you make of your mailbox being empty for several days in a row? While not receiving any mail isn’t really that unusual once in awhile – if the trend continues beyond a single consecutive day, you should look into the reason.

As it turns out, there is a new identity theft scam making its way around the country that combines the use of both technology and old fashioned “snail mail” to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. The first clue that you may have been a victim is simply an empty mailbox.

While you may celebrate when there’s no mail (after all, no mail means no bills, right?) – the real reason may be quite sinister, and one that requires immediate attention. Ignoring your lack of mail may lead to a ruined credit report and a plunging credit score.

Here’s how this particular identity theft scheme works:

  • The identity thief typically applies for a credit card in your name, using your personal information, including your mailing address.
  • The thief then uses the USPS website to place a hold on your mail. The thief pretends to be you, but no authorization is ever required.
  • You stop receiving mail, as your identity thief plans to act as you and retrieve your mail from the post office when the credit card arrives. Again, no identification is required for them to pick up your mail from the USPS.
  • If the thief is successful, they will have a credit card in your name. The mail hold will be removed so that you will begin receiving mail at home again, and (they hope) you will be none the wiser.

This identity theft scheme has been just recently brought to light, and the lack of security surrounding the USPS electronic hold system is being investigated, according to representatives from the postal service.

In this technology-driven world, we all have to prove our identity online multiple times a day – even signing into Twitter can be difficult if you use a different computer or device. Accessing our most valuable personal information, (bank accounts, PayPal accounts and credit card statements) requires that we prove our identity through the use of complex passwords and security questions. Hopefully, the US Postal Service will soon have similar security measures in place in order to prevent just anyone from picking up “their” new credit card, all the while pretending to be you.

Until then, we want you to be aware of this problem so that your identity is not used by someone else. If this has happened to you (or you suspect that it has), acting quickly is of the utmost importance. Report the fraudulent activity, file a police report, and get in touch with a New Jersey credit repair attorney immediately.

Image credit: Matt

How to Avoid a Foreclosure Defense Scam

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All too often, homeowners who are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure are under the impression that they can’t afford to pay for the assistance of an experienced foreclosure attorney.

This leads people to seek out alternatives to saving their home. You may have seen advertisements for services that make ‘too good to be true’ claims; they can often be found in local newspapers, on bulletin boards or on random signs near your home (often on telephone poles or staked into the ground.)

These “services” are very often scam artists disguised as a foreclosure defense or loan modification company. Typically, they’ll entice you by claiming to charge only a one-time flat fee amount that is less expensive than retaining a foreclosure defense attorney.

For that one-time flat fee, the scammer company will make lofty promises in relation to your specific money problems. If you’re about to lose your home to foreclosure, promises will be made to “save your home,” “stop the foreclosure,” “negotiate a loan modification,” etc.

While all of these false promises are being tossed around, the fraudulent foreclosure defense company may begin asking for more money in order to continue negotiations that have taken “longer than expected” or to initiate an automatic stay. Because of the addition of more and more fees, you will almost always end up paying a scammer a lot more money than a certified foreclosure defense lawyer!

Will a fraudulent foreclosure defense company actually help me save my home?

So, you’re thinking, “Ok; I may have gotten taken for more money than the deal I thought I was getting, but at least my house will not be sold at Sheriff’s Sale.” You may be kicking yourself for spending more than you had to, but as long as your foreclosure is stopped, you’ll probably feel somewhat relieved.

The problem with that line of thinking is that these foreclosure defense scammers don’t actually plan on doing any work on your case at all. Their solitary goal is to take your money. In some cases, they may use some of your money to pay a third party to negotiate a loan modification for you (which will do nothing in terms of stopping a foreclosure), while they keep the rest of your money as profit.

Throughout the vast majority of this process, the scammers will lead you to believe that they are constantly working on your case – filing paperwork and negotiating with your lender as your foreclosure defense team. In reality, almost nothing is actually being done to further your case along at all.

Some foreclosure defense scam artists may even make bold claims that suggest they are working with or for the government or your mortgage company in order to increase your comfort level. Multiple promises will be made to you about what they can deliver in terms of saving your home. If your home is already in foreclosure, it’s important to know that a loan modification will not stop or even delay the foreclosure process in the slightest.

If you are facing foreclosure and wish to save your home, you need a New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney working for you. Although an attorney’s fees may seem higher up front, the alternative is to pay smaller amounts out over a long stretch of time to a scam artist. In the end, your certified and experienced attorney may even come out costing LESS, and you will have gotten the results you wanted.

Veitengruber Law has saved many homes for New Jersey residents who are struggling, and we will continue to save more homes for those who need help. Paying our fees is beyond worth it, because we do not stop working until your home is saved, and we don’t make any promises we can’t keep.

Image credit: Ingrid Richter