A Queens lawmaker wants to battle mailbox fishing on a national level with a new piece of proposed legislation.
Last week, Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced a new bill called the Keep Mail Safe Act, which calls on the U.S. Postmaster General to study the feasibility of retrofitting all blue mailboxes in the United States with narrow mail slots.
The retrofitted boxes have been deemed the “Cadillac of mailboxes” by the United States Postal Service, who have installed them across Queens over the past year. Each box will have a narrow slot measuring three-eighths of an inch to make mailbox fishing more difficult.
“Year after year, numerous Americans, including New Yorkers – many of whom are seniors — fall victim to criminals who steal their personal information through mail fishing,” said Meng. “This has resulted in identity theft and funds being stolen from victims’ bank accounts. Last year, the Postal Service agreed to retrofit all blue mail collection boxes in my home borough of Queens, New York, after I urged the agency to do so. Now, they should look at doing the same throughout the country. We can no longer ignore this problem. The Postmaster General must conduct a study to retrofit all collection boxes.”
According to Meng’s office, there were over 3,000 mailbox fishing incidents in New York City last year alone. The crime of fishing occurs when an individual place string connected to a sticky material into the opening of collection boxes. Once the substance adheres to a piece of mail, the person “fishes” it out.
Using these tactics, criminals have been able to steal people’s personal information including bank and credit cards and Social Security numbers, which has resulted in identity theft and bank fraud.
Last year, the USPS began replacing and retrofitting mailboxes in northeast Queens, where there were 124 incidents in 2018. In January 2019, USPS said they retrofitted mailboxes in Little Neck and Oakland Gardens and had plans to do the same for all collection boxes in the borough.
Narrower mail slots have caused fishers to target areas that do not utilize the security feature.