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Voice of the Consumer: Protect the packages in your mailbox

By: betty sexton KKTV 11 News
December 15, 2015
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photo - Betty Sexton
Betty Sexton 

This is the time of year when your mailbox and your front door are under assault. It's prime time when it comes to the delivery of gifts and other holiday items. You wouldn't leave valuables on the front seat of your car in clear view with the doors unlocked. Nor would you let strangers wander inside your home and rummage through your valuables. Treat your mailbox and the area around your front door as if crooks are targeting them, because they are.

I want to thank Tony who lives in Black Forest. He told me his wife put a letter in their mailbox and then put up the red flag two hours before the letter carrier came. When the mail carrier told them nothing was inside their mailbox, they knew someone else had snatched it. Turns out that letter contained an order form which had her Visa card information. They canceled the card, and just in time. The next day Best Buy called and said Tony's wife could come to the store to pick up their new television.

They reported the mail theft and also contacted the postal inspector. Tony wants to commend his carrier, Cheri, saying, "It could have been weeks before we learned that our identity had been stolen, with all the attendant trouble. We are only mailing our letters in the pilfer-proof, drive-up post office mailboxes from now on!"

Tony's right. I talked to Pamela Durkee, a U.S. Postal inspector, and she says it's best to mail items using the blue postal boxes, not your own mailbox. She says, "If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to your local postmaster or nearest postal inspector. You'll be asked to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint." Durkee says by analyzing information collected from the form, postal inspectors may be able to determine if your problem is an isolated one or part of a larger mail theft ring in your neighborhood. It also could help them locate and apprehend the thieves.

Durkee also says to keep an eye out for unfamiliar cars in your neighborhood. If you see someone hovering around mailboxes or acting suspiciously, call 911 and report it to your local post office. She says, "The package you save may be your own!" Durkee also points out there are ways to control WHEN your packages are delivered, using Priority Express. She says it's available 365 days a year, offers a money-back guarantee and overnight scheduled delivery to most U.S. addresses, including P.O. Boxes. Durkee says, "You'll also get proof of delivery signature record, tracking services, and $100 insurance on most shipments."

Also, if your circumstances change, consider having items shipped to an alternate address like your employer. You also can change the delivery address while it's in transit. Ask a friend or neighbor if you can have the item shipped to them or you can have it held for pick up at your post office. We've talked to a couple of Colorado Springs residents who have surveillance video of their packages being stolen off their front porches by crooks. Don't become a victim, take steps to ensure your package ends up in your hands and not a thief's.

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Contact Betty Sexton at bsexton@kktv.com or 578-0000.

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