Postal In­spec­tor: USPS tweak­ing pro­gram hacked by iden­tity thieves

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Wayne K. Rous­tan wkrous­[email protected] sun­sen­tinel.com or 954-356-4303 or Twit­ter @WayneRous­tan

JJ Al­fasa checks out the newly ren­o­vated cot­tage at the Boca Ra­ton Chil­dren’s Mu­seum on Thurs­day.

While po­lice search for a gang of iden­tity thieves that has been plun­der­ing mail­boxes in Mi­ra­mar, the U.S. Postal Ser­vice is tweak­ing a new pro­gram that the thieves took ad­van­tage of.

The In­formed De­liv­ery pro­gram lets con­sumers know, via email, what mail is be­ing de­liv­ered to their home and when.

How­ever, iden­tity thieves were sign­ing up for the pro­gram, link­ing tar­geted ad­dresses to al­ter­nate emails so they would know what is be­ing de­liv­ered to a given home and then steal the valu­able pieces of mail, such as credit card state­ments, from curb­side mail­boxes.

“In­formed De­liv­ery is a fairly new tool,” said postal in­spec­tor Ivan Ramirez. “Un­for­tu­nately we just learned about this [scheme].”

With­out re­veal­ing the new se­cu­rity mea­sures, Ramirez said one quick fix in­volves con­sumers sign­ing up for the free In­formed De­liv­ery pro­gram them­selves at USPS.com and link­ing it to their own email ad­dresses to block any­one else from do­ing so, he said.

“Once you have it reg­is­tered in the sys­tem, your email is tied to your ad­dress and no other email is go­ing to be signed up for the same ad­dress,” he said. “That way no one else can sign up for it af­ter­ward.”

The reg­is­tra­tion process in­cludes choos­ing a user name and pass­word, an­swer­ing two se­cu­rity ques­tions, adding your mail­ing ad­dress, email ad­dress and a phone num­ber, and choos­ing one of two iden­tity ver­i­fi­ca­tion op­tions.

If you are blocked from sign­ing up for In­formed De­liv­ery be­cause some­one has al­ready signed up us­ing your name or ad­dress, con­tact the Postal In­spec­tion Ser­vice con­sumer hotline at 1-877-876-2455 to re­port the prob­lem.

“Once the Postal Ser­vice is aware that [you have] been vic­tim­ized, we can de­ac­ti­vate that account, pro­tect your account and have you reg­is­ter your le­git­i­mate account so that this doesn’t hap­pen again,” Ramirez said.

Postal in­spec­tors, Mi­ra­mar po­lice and sev­eral other law en­force­ment agen­cies have been look­ing for three men sus­pected of us­ing In­formed De­liv­ery to monitor mail de­liv­er­ies in the Monarch Lakes com­mu­nity so they could steal let­ters and use that per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to open credit card ac­counts and get driver’s li­cense du­pli­cates.

JOHN MC­CALL/SUN SEN­TINEL

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