With news that Metro Vancouver is the mail theft capital of Canada, many of us have grown increasingly concerned about bad guys stealing mail right out of our mailboxes.
This could become an even bigger problem as more areas in Metro Vancouver transition away from the traditional door-to-door delivery by Canada Post to community boxes. What can you do to protect yourself from thieves stealing your credit cards, cheques and other private information?
1. Get a Mail Slot, Not a Mail Box
When you have a physical mailbox on the exterior of your home, it is very easy for any passer-by to open it up and take away the contents. Don’t make it that easy for them!
A mail slot that leads directly into your home means that your mail isn’t freely available to anyone on the street. If it’s not possible to get a mail slot, consider getting a locking mailbox instead. Of course, this won’t be as useful once the Canada Post community mailbox hits your neighbourhood.
2. Switch to Paperless Billing Wherever Available
One of the best ways to protect yourself against mail theft is to minimize the amount of snail mail you get in the first place. Many banks, credit cards and utilities offer an e-billing option. When you sign up for that, you’ll either get access to your bills through their online portal or they will be e-mailed to you directly.
In either case, you minimize the clutter and help the environment too. You should also consider opting out of as much junk mail as possible, including certain newsletters and other mailouts you may receive.
3. Remove Mail As Promptly As Possible
The longer your mail is left out there in the mailbox, the more opportunity a thief has to steal it. You’ll come to learn the schedule of your local letter carrier quite quickly, so be sure to remove any mail that you receive as soon as you can. If there’s no mail in the mailbox, there’s nothing for the thief to steal.
4. Inform the Post Office of Your Vacation Time
It’s not really possible to promptly remove your mail from the box if you happen to be traveling halfway around the world. The mail can pile up, your absence will become obvious, and your mailbox quickly becomes an easy target. Instead, set up a vacation hold with your local post office and they will hold your mail until you return. Alternatively, you can ask a friend or neighbour to collect your mail for you each day you are away.
5. Subscribe to an External Mailbox Rental Service
By far, the best way to protect yourself against mail theft is not to have any mail at your unsecured home mailbox in the first place. Instead, you can sign up for a mailbox rental service that will safely and securely collect your mail for you. This is different from a P.O. box, as many couriers won’t deliver parcels to P.O. boxes.
One of the best services in town has to be the mailbox rental from The Network Hub. They have three convenient locations and mailbox rental is only $30/month. Mail forwarding, including an option for digital forwarding, is $50/month.
Michael Kwan is a freelance writer, published author and professional gadget geek from the Vancouver area.