Post office recycling raises identify theft concerns

1st Lt. Andrew Ignash
2nd Air Postal Squadron

***image1***An initiative to combat litter at U.S. Air Forces in Europe post offices may be allowing potential for identity theft.

Over the past few years, USAFE postmasters have had great success combating litter problems with post office recycling bins; now, however, there is a concern that these same recycling bins are allowing access to personal identifying information.

“I have seen people throw away bundles of unopened mail after they return from deployment,” said Mr. Steve Waller, 2nd Air Postal Squadron official mail manager. “That mail can contain bank information, credit card applications, and all sorts of details that you don’t want people to know.”

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, which has led to increased attention from financial institutions, law enforcement officials, and consumers. The problem is that mail inherently contains personal information, and that Airmen aren’t as careful as they should be when they discard their mail.

“Dumpster diving won’t stop, so individuals should remember they are the first line of defense, and it is their responsibility to properly dispose of items containing personal information,” said Mr. Waller.

One way to ensure your information is not easily obtained is to open and screen your mail at home.  You should also use a cross-cut shredder. 

Anything with your identifiers should be shredded before being thrown away.
“We would like to remind people that they should not put private information in any public receptacle,” said Master Sgt. Tracy Jones, the squadron’s postal operations superintendent.
Although identity theft may seem like a minor crime, a victim may have out-of-pocket financial losses and additional costs associated with trying to restore his or her economic reputation.
“It is important that we all work together to ensure identity theft doesn’t occur,” said Mr. Waller. “Use your best common sense to ensure that you don’t become a victim.”
(Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)