Postmaster General Urges America to Prevent ID Theft

Every American household will receive a letter this week from U.S. Postmaster General John Potter advising the occupants to protect against identity theft. The Postal Service said Tuesday it teamed with the Federal Trade Commission to provide tips and tools; the FTC brochure "Deter. Detect. Defend. Fighting Back Against Identity Theft" is included in the mailing.

ID theft is one of America's fastest-growing crimes, said USPS, which cited a recent FTC survey that found only 2 percent of victims reported that the theft they sustained was connected to the mail. But even 2 percent is too much, Potter said. "We will keep working to make the mail even more secure and strive to reduce that percentage to zero," he said. "Your identity is valuable. If someone steals it to commit fraudulent acts, it can affect every aspect of your life -- your credit standing, your ability to buy a car or house, even get a job or medical care."

The two agencies' tips are:

* Check credit card statements, bank documents, and financial reports every month for unauthorized activity.
* Protect Social Security numbers; don't carry Social Security cards in wallets or write the number on a check.
* Don't provide personal information over the phone or the Internet.
* Never click on links sent in unsolicited e-mail messages.
* Keep personal information in a secure place at home.

USPS suggested visiting these sites for information about ID theft:

* U.S. Postal Inspection Service (usps.com/postalinspectors)
* The Federal Trade Commission (www.consumer.gov/idtheft)
* The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (www.fdic.gov/consumers)
* The Department of Justice (www.ojp.gov/topics/identitytheft.htm)

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