ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Kent County Sheriff's Department is urging residents to monitor their credit reports, after identifying nearly three dozen local cases of mail fraud-turned-identity theft. More cases have been reported across the state.
The first in a string of incidents in Kent County was reported in Ada Township on March 15, 2018. Police say a caller reported seeing a man and a woman taking items from residents' mailboxes. Not long after that, the Lowell Police Department and several agencies in eastern Michigan began receiving numerous reports of identity theft.
"The suspects were stealing the victims' identities, opening fraudulent credit-card accounts in their name, and then stealing the cards from the victims' mailboxes when the cards were delivered," says the Kent County Sheriff's Department in a news release.
It says the suspects often target neighborhoods where 'banks' of mailboxes are close together. Police say two credit-card companies recently seen with the fraudulent credit cards are HSBC Bank and State Farm Bank.
To protect your mail from thieves, the Sheriff's Department says don't allow mail to sit in your mailbox long. Promptly remove it after delivery, especially when you're expecting checks, credit cards or similar financial items.
"If you won't be home when the items are expected," say police, "ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail. Don't leave your mail
unattended for extended periods. Have your Post Office hold your mail while you’re away. If you don’t receive a check or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency."
And contact police if you see mail theft at home or at work, and then report it to Postal Inspectors. You can report stolen mail by submitting an online complaint , by going to the following website, or by calling 877-876-2455.
If you have any more information about the local incidents, contact the Kent County Sheriff's Department at (616)-632-6100.