BELLE ISLE, Fla. – Between Thanksgiving and Christmas about 15 billion pieces of mail will be delivered by the United States Postal Service. As the busy season gets underway two services offered by the USPS have been heavily scrutinized in recent weeks for security loop holes.
The Secret Service recently issued a warning about one of those services called Informed Delivery, which is a free service that every day emails you pictures of what you'll get in the mail that day.
Last month News 6 reported that Informed Delivery was being used by criminals after people in Belle Isle and Dr. Phillips say they were signed up for the service without their knowledge.
Crooks signed Gigi Fotieo up for the service, took out credit cards in her and her parent's names, and then used Informed Delivery to intercept those cards in the mail, according to Belle Isle Police.
The criminals charged $17,000 on the fraudulent cards.
"I got this one bill for $2,000 for a credit card that we never signed up for," Fotieo said.
This month, the Secret Service issued a warning to its law enforcement partners that criminals can take advantage of Informed Delivery, according to Krebs on Security.
"It seems like it's more of a benefit to the criminals than it is to an actual postal customer," Fotieo said.
This week postal officials defended another one of its programs called Informed Visibility.
They admitted a vulnerability was identified, but concluded, "We currently have no information that this vulnerability was leveraged to exploit customer records," a USPS spokesperson wrote in an email to News 6.
Postal Inspector Rick Johnsten said his office takes mail fraud and theft seriously.
"The holiday season is obviously quickly approaching, so package theft is one of our primary concerns," Johnsten said.
There are a number of things people can do to protect their packages this holiday season, Johnsten said.
"If you know you're leaving town and you aren't going to be there to receive your packages, you can have your mail placed on hold," Johnsten said. "So essentially when you get back into town, it's all waiting for you nice and secure at the post office."
Consumers can also secure the shipment using certified mail which requires a signature at delivery. And registered mail, which requires several signatures documenting the packages movements, according to Johnsten.