The Dangers of Physical Mail

dangers of physical mail graphic

Many businesses have been turning back to physical mail recently out of fear of data leaks. This fear, though it comes in the wake of several such high-profile leaks over the past few years, is largely unfounded. The truth is that going digital is still safer than using physical mail in many ways. Learn about the dangers of physical mail and how you can protect your data and your customers’ identities in your marketing and customer communication efforts by staying digital.

Statistics About Identity Theft

14.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2019. It’s the fastest-growing crime in the nation and, shockingly, only around 35% of victims ever find out they were compromised. As such, identity theft is also very underreported.

Even worse, when identity theft occurs, it’s rare that the perpetrators are caught and the damage is contained and undone. This is because identity theft, whether digital or analog, leaves few “fingerprints” behind that can be easily traced, and when it does, much of it goes on outside of the US.

While all of these facts have led to businesses increasing security related to online banking transactions, many don’t realize that there is another form of identity theft. Physical mail can be stolen right out of your customers’ mailbox.

Physical Mail and Identity Theft

Did you know that 60 million mailboxes all over the United States are unlocked? Almost any piece of mail in them includes all the sensitive information a thief needs to steal an identity. These unlocked mailboxes are particularly vulnerable when people go on vacation and mail sits in their box for days at a time.

To combat this, the U.S. Postal Service began offering an “Informed Delivery” service that allows customers to view scanned copies of incoming mail. Unfortunately, fraudsters have begun hijacking the informed identity cards of those who sign up for the service. So it has opened another door for identity theft instead of solving the problem at hand.

Go Digital

The best way to protect your customers’ data these days is to go digital. E-bills and online payments through your bank are not only secure but also offer a high degree of protection against fraud. You’ll save on paper consumption as well which means you’ll be doing your part to reduce paper waste. But beyond that, if customers pay a digital bill through a bank account and someone intercepts the transmission, the customer is not responsible for the fraud. The unauthorized charges can be reversed, fraudulent accounts closed, and new accounts can be opened. Many credit cards and even online payment providers like PayPal offer the same services and protections.

On the other hand, physical identity theft can be much trickier. Instead of accessing one unauthorized account, the thieves can set up many accounts in the stolen identity’s name with the customers’ accounts because they have all of the information they need. Staying digital offers some risk but it’s a risk that limits the damage and is far easier to fix.

The US Postal Service is constantly developing to stay relevant in the modern era of technology. But when it comes to protecting personal identities, sticking with old-fashioned paper mail is a fast track to massive data leaks. Protect yourself, your business, and your customers by going digital.