Montgomery County, Maryland, is warning residents about two criminal activities that increase over the holiday season: “porch pirates” and “mock mailers.”
Porch pirates are people who steal packages or items that have been delivered to your door.
“They may be stealing items that you ordered — or they may be stealing items that they ordered in your name by stealing your identity and having items mailed to your home,” said Eric Friedman, director of the county’s Office of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
He said that porch pirates sometimes follow delivery trucks and scoop up the packages as they are delivered.
But there are ways to protect your booty from this scourge. Avast ye:
- Track your packages online so they can be retrieved quickly.
- Consider shipping your package to your work.
- Consider picking up in-store.
- Install a security camera, spotlight or a lockbox.
- File a claim promptly with the merchant or shipping company, if your package has been stolen.
People may also see an uptick of mock mailers around the holidays. These are letters that look important, “skillfully crafted to lead consumers into believing that the mail is from their car manufacturer or their mortgage company,” Friedman said.
You can recognize this type of scam by the bold print that often warns you about an alert notice on your vehicle, or that your factory warranty is about expire, or that this is your final notice.
For mortgage mail scams, the letter may be written to mislead homeowners into thinking that it came from their mortgage company.
The letters may also say that the customer should contact the sender by a deadline. What makes these letters look and sound even more legitimate is that they may often have the correct information about your property.
But don’t be fooled, and follow these tips to avoid being a victim of these scams:
- Do not automatically assume a letter is valid because it looks official.
- Carefully read the small print.
- Shred all mail that contains personal or financial information.
For more information on how to protect yourself or to report any scams, go to Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection website.