OAK PARK, Mich. - Residents of an Oak Park neighborhood are being affected by mail theft.
People who were expecting new credit cards haven't been getting them. Investigators are trying to get a handle on the situation. Identity theft is spreading through the neighborhood.
"I didn't get my credit cards. We're waiting for them and we checked our bank accounts and these fraudulent charges showed up. It's all very unnerving and threatening?" said resident Lev Kozlov.
"I'm just nervous that my phone number was stolen. Who knows what else could be stolen and used," said Malka Kozlov.
The thief somehow managed to get Malka's phone number and used it to activate the stolen card. The thief then went to Best Buy and tried to buy $6 worth of electronics. The card maxed out at $1,000.
Malka and Lev are the first of many mail customers worried about their mail's safety, according to Lt. Troy Taylor, an Oak Park police detective.
"Over the weekend, we had a couple more and they're all occurring in the same area so we're trying to put the pieces together now to develop any suspects," Taylor said.
Officials are trying to follow the mail trail and see what's happening. The Kozlovs are nervously watching their accounts.
"My background is cybersecurity so, for these kinds of attacks on me and my family, are destabilized our entire life for the past couple of weeks," Lev said.
Oak Park police said one of the homes in the neighborhood has a ring doorbell that records all the activity on the front step and it didn't show anyone taking the mail.
The U.S. Postal Service is investigating and released the following statement:
"Every day, the U.S. Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards, and merchandise. Unfortunately, such items are also attractive to thieves. That’s why Postal Inspectors across the country are at work to protect your mail. But with deliveries to more than 150 million addresses, we can’t do the job alone. Here’s what you can do to protect your mail from thieves:
- Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox every day.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you’re expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won’t be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail.
- Just as you wouldn’t leave the door to your home unlocked while you’re away, you shouldn’t let mail accumulate in your mailbox. Don't leave your mail unattended for extended periods. Have your Post Office hold your mail while you’re away. You can do this online at www.usps.com.
- When expecting a package delivery, track the shipment at www.usps.com. You can sign up for email and text alerts at www.myusps.com.
- If you don’t receive a check or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency.
- If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
- Hand outgoing mail to your letter carrier, or mail it at the Post Office, an official blue USPS collection box on the street, or a secure receptacle at your place of business.
- Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders. Ask your bank for 'secure' checks that are more difficult to alter.
- If you have concerns about security in your neighborhood, consider installing a lockable mailbox or obtaining PO Box service from your local Post Office.
- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes and residences.
If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately by submitting an online complaint at postalinspectors.uspis.gov or calling us at 877-876-2455."
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