id fraud or simple misdelivery?
August 2, 2005 8:28 PM   Subscribe

My friend just got a paycheck in the mail. It had obviously been opened and then scotch-taped back up. Also, it arrived a couple days later than she expected it. Inside was the intact paycheck and stub. Problem is the stub also had her full name, SSN #, and of course salary and workplace. Should she be worried? If this was ID theft why would they have taped it back up? I'm curious too about what may have happened here.
posted by vacapinta to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The innocent reason: it was misdelivered and someone opened it without looking at the address. It was in their mailbox, why wouldn't they open it? Of course upon seeing the contents, they realized it wasn't for them. So they closed it back up with tape, and put it out for the mailman to deliver correctly.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 PM on August 2, 2005

Two possibilites that I can think of ...
I've had a couple letters that were damaged at the post office, and the people at the post office taped it up and sent it on. As I recall, there was a red stamp that said something along the lines of "mishandled mail".

The second possibility is the letter was delivered to the wrong address and opened. I know that I've been guilty of ripping open something that looks like my mail without really looking at the address first. There's been a time or two where I've had to give the neighbors their opened mail. In my (very weak) defense, these have usually been bills from similar companies (trash, water, or some such).

Regardless, why would someone steal her identity and then give her the money back? It would seem to make more sense that if it was identity theft, well, they have a check right there to cash. So its unlikely (not impossible) that its identity theft.
posted by forforf at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2005

the smart money's on going to the post office and asking them. I'm sure they could sort it out.
posted by puke & cry at 9:14 PM on August 2, 2005

If it was identity theft, maybe the perpetrator hoped the re-sealed envelope would either go unnoticed or would be reported less quickly than if the paycheck were missing completely.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:39 PM on August 2, 2005

I would say this is a simple case of misdelivered mail. However, if she's really worried about it she can report the incident to all of the credit agencies and the Federal Trade Comission. That way, if something does happen and her social security number is used against her wishes at least she has a record of the initial incident. This step is called an Initial Fraud Alert and it can stop someone from opening a new credit account under her name.

Your friend, and all of us for that matter, should be checking our credit reports at least once a year because it is the only way to spot unusual activity -- especially with stolen ss#'s that can be used to open new credit card accounts without our knowledge. This may be slightly off topic, but if you didn't know there is a recent law that requires the credit agencies to give you one free credit report every year. It is rolling out across the country on a monthly basis. Everybody should check and see when they are eligible and GO CHECK YOUR CREDIT!!

That is really and truly the best defense against identity theives. (And you would be surprised how often they get away with it because we are all too lazy to take a look at recent credit activity.)

My links aren't working for some reason, but here is the FTC webpage that explains how to go about getting your free report:

And here is the FTC webpage that explains how to protect yourself and what to do if you suspect you are a victim of ID theft:
posted by ebeeb at 10:19 PM on August 2, 2005

To further what ebeeb said

You should request copies from each of the three major credit reporting agencies are TransUnion (800-888-4213), Equifax (800-685-1111), and Experian (888-397-3742). Each agency differs slightly in the information it carries.

Since they are required by law to give it out free once a year (east coasters- this takes effect Sept 1) you might want to set up an annual rolling four month schedule, one of the three free reports every four months.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:41 AM on August 3, 2005

Another possible, innocent reason: The person sending it out forgot to put something in, or put something in the wrong envelope, and needed to open it up. If it is a windowed envelope, there'd be no reason not to put it in a fresh envelope, but if it was labeled, the person might have just taped it up and sent it out rather than print a new one (for reasons of environmental awareness or laziness).
posted by teg at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2005

You can place a fraud alert on your reports as well and the only real repercussion to you is that you won't be able to do any kind of instant credit kind of offer. No big loss in my mind but then I think most credit is teh evul....
posted by phearlez at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2005

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