Pinellas officials warn about identity thieves searching for info in mail

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Authorities warn that thieves are using the mail to try and steal identities.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Robert Kinzinger. They say he stole the identities of 15 people.

Investigators say in some cases Kinzinger stopped people's mail from being delivered to their homes. Detectives say he placed a hold through the Postal Service and had may have had the mail forwarded.

Authorities say Kinzinger was able to order replacement driver's licenses and vehicle registrations in the victims' names. He was also able to open various accounts.

Tobey Fults keeps a lock on her mailbox. "We worry about that a lot down here. Actually we heard of somebody having their mail stolen not too long ago, actually," Fults said.

She doesn't even throw her mail out. "That's a fear we have, so when we get our mail, (if) it's important information, we hide it in our house. We don't even throw our mail away because you never know," Fults said.

Postal Inspector Doug Smith said there are ways to protect yourself and your personal information. "If you find any indication that there's been an interruption in mail service, certainly contact the postal service or your letter carrier and ask how come you're not getting mail for a day or two," Smith said.

He said mail is most vulnerable when it's left in the box for days. He suggested asking a neighbor to pick mail up if you're going out of town.

Be cautious when you're sending mail, Smith said. "If you're sending something out, do not put the flag up indicting to criminals that there's something possibly of value in the mailbox," he said.

Regularly check account statements and credit reports, authorities encouraged.

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