deliveryIn the new age of technology, some of us have embraced the concept of purchasing our Christmas gifts online. What could be better than sitting at home all wrapped up and cozy in our warm house, browsing the internet for those cyber Monday deals? It eliminates taking time away from our families on Thanksgiving to fight the crowds and spares us the insanity of all the Black Friday chaos. But there’s one thing Otto’s would like for you to remember…mail theft is at its highest during the holiday season. That includes packages sent by all of the major courier delivery services.

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Most people hear “mail theft” and automatically think of their mailbox. While it’s wise to protect your mail from identity theft, you also want to protect your Christmas presents from thieves as well. Here are a few ideas we’ve come across that will safe-guard your holiday investments.

  1. Choose a shipping method that requires a signature (and tell any family or friends who might be mailing something to you to do the same). Better yet, some companies allow you to specify whose signature is required to sign for the package.
  2. Monitor the delivery status of your package online so that you know exactly when it will arrive.
  3. Ship your items to a different location such as your office or retail store. Several chain stores give you the choice of “Ship to Store” as a shipping option. They will hold your item until you’re available to pick it up. Having it sent to your place of employment could make life easier. Most likely you know the person that accepts shipments and you can alert them that you’re expecting something. Just be sure to check with your employer to make sure that is allowed.
  4. Have your packages held at the carrier’s location. UPS for example has “access” centers and a special “My Choice” program that allows users to reschedule, redirect or have packages delivered to a center near you for pick up.
  5. If you know that you won’t be home to accept your package, include special instructions at the time of payment or instruct the postal carrier to hold the package for you at the Post Office. Ask a trusted neighbor to accept packages on your behalf and leave a note on the door for the carrier to give it to that address. You can also ask that neighbor to grab the parcel from your porch when they see that it’s been delivered.
  6. Finally, be sure to purchase insurance on the high dollar items. This will also help protect you if the package is damaged during shipment. With all the hundreds of thousands of pieces being handled during the holiday season, it’s not likely that all packages will be handled with care.

If you’re unable to locate your “delivered” packages, be sure to check with your trusted neighbor to make sure they didn’t pick it up while you were away. Also, ask any other residents in your home because it may have slipped their mind that they brought it in out of the cold for you.

If you find yourself the victim of package theft, be sure to contact the following to file a report:

  1. Contact the carrier that delivered the package. They will help you track the exact route your package took while in their custody.
  2. Contact the business you ordered the item from. They will walk you through any protection plans available to you.
  3. Call the credit card company. They may offer “purchase-protection”.

All of us at Otto’s know that the meaning of Christmas isn’t found in the price of the gifts you buy this holiday season. We also know that when you find that “perfect” gift you’ve been looking for online, you don’t want it hijacked by a thief that spends their day stalking the delivery driver. Think smart and protect yourself!