Rural identity theft on the rise

Rural identity theft on the rise
By: Holly Brantley
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. - Here's another sign that modern day crime can strike anyone, anywhere. Thieves try to steal your identity move their efforts from computers to the mailbox, and it appears they like working in the country.
Residents we talked with in Cape Girardeau County have yet to notice any missing mail, but they know crime can strike them. Residents say newspapers regularly turn up missing, and vandals often hit mailboxes. So, the new warnings of identity theft come as no surprise.
Criminals only need one piece of your mail. "You hear about Internet related theft, if sounds similar to that," said Jess Wells, of Cape Girardeau County.
In fact, it is. thieves take your mail and run with it. They steal your financial information, identity and then your money. "It's an inconvenience," said Wells.
Thieves often scan mailboxes for credit card applications. If they find what they are looking for, they fill it out and have it sent back to your address. They come by and pick it up, and check to see if it works. If it does, that's when the damage begins.
Marie James, lives in rural Cape Girardeau County. James says she keeps an eye on her mail. She never leaves mail in her box overnight, and she has checks direct deposited.
But, the scary part about identity theft is that thieves only need one piece of information on anything from checks, bills, or credit cards to make you a victim.
Marie admits changing mailing habits can be an inconvenience. "I think so," said Marie. "I know grandma always wanted to get that check and feel it before it was deposited into the bank."
To prevent identity theft, experts say to shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information.
Another good way to protect yourself is to get a post office box and avoid having a home mailbox all together.
Also, don't leave outgoing mail in the mailbox for a long period of time, such as overnight or on the weekends.
If you become a victim, close all of your accounts that you believe have been tampered with, and contact the police.