Gift Cards Stolen from the Mail at the Post Office
In case you have not been following this series on Gift Card Fraud and Scams, Part I of the series, which was posted last week, talks about secret credit card recording and how that is used to perpetuate gift card fraud. Today’s post will focus on gift card fraud at the post office.
I posted this article back in march 2008 – Gift Card Alert: USPS may have lost the gift card you mailed alerting readers about the need to properly package gift cards before they mail them since it appears gift cards are being lost at the post office due to improper packaging.
While the post office places the blame for missing gift cards on customers, it appears a few bad apples among the post office employees are taking advantage of the situation and may be going as far as stealing gift cards from mail that may have been properly packaged.
A recent arrest of a McAllen, TX postal worker for stealing gift cards from the mail got me curious. I did a quick search on Google news and came up with similar post office arrests over the last year or so, including the following:
April 24, 2008 – Charlottesville, VA (A Postal worker pleads guilty to stealing mail that contained money and gift cards)
April 22, 2008 – Smithtown, NY (Postal worker arrested for stealing credit and gift cards from mail)
March 12, 2008 – Madison, WI (Federal prosecutors charge a former postal worker with stealing gift cards from the mail)
May 24, 2007 – Sudan, TX (Postal worker arrested for stealing gift cards and credit cards from mail)
June 30, 2007 – Glenville, NY (Postal worker arrested for stealing gift cards from mail)
October 4, 2006 – Bloomington, IN (A U.S. Postal Service employee confesses to stealing gift cards while on her mail route)
June 13, 2006 – Orlando, FL (Eight postal workers face criminal charges for allegedly stealing items from the mail including cash and gift cards)
How You Can Be Affected
There are two ways gift card fraud can happen at the post office. The first method, which the post office has explained, is when poorly packages mail become undone by the sorting conveyer belt and spew gift cards all over the floor. The post office’s policy on gift cards that fallout during the sorting process is that if those cards are not claimed within 30 days, they are sent to a postal processing center in Minnesota and destroyed. The question is whether all the unclaimed gift cards make it to Minnesota? Based on the arrests listed above, it is fair to assume that some of the gift cards are stolen by some bad employees at the post office.
The second method, which has led to recent arrests of some post office employees, is when employees delivering mail steal packages that feel like they contain valuables, including gift cards, credit cards, or cash.
How to Protect Yourself
1. Secure packaging: As you can probably tell, people can feel a package and determine its contents, especially with gift cards. If you are going to mail a gift card, be sure to package it properly so that it is not easily discernable. You can use bubble wrap, padded envelopes etc. to help disguise the contents of your package.
2. Buy Insurance: If you are mailing a gift card of significant value, consider buying insurance from the post office as extra protection. The $1.50 you spend on insuring your package may help save your $50 gift card should it go missing. Yes, you can probably get the gift card issuer to issue a replacement card should your gift card go missing.
However, not all retailers are willing to re-issue gift cards and even if they do, they will only re-issue the card for the current value on the card. So, if your card is stolen in the mail and the person uses all the value on the card, then there will be nothing to replace.
3. Notify Recipient: Another way of protect yourself from gift card mail fraud is to call the recipient and alert them when you mail the package, so that they can be on the look out for it. It will also help them react more quickly if the package does not arrive. You don’t want to wait until weeks or months later before you find out that the gift card never arrived. By that time, it may be too late.
Readers, have you been a victim of mail fraud? Share your experience or any tips you may have through the comments section below.