JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

How common is identity theft through the mail? And what is appropriate Post Office protocol?

September 18th, 2004 · No Comments

When we returned from our trip to Italy years ago, I went to our post office in Cupertino, CA and asked for our mail.

The postal worker refused.
She looked at me and said: “You don’t look like a Leung.”
Instead of being satisfied with my signature on a form, she insisted on seeing picture ID before handing me my mail.

At the time, the only drivers license I had was a piece of paper from the state of CA: we had moved recently and our new documents were still in process.

Fortunately, since we had traveled overseas, I still had my passport from my trip in my purse, so I could indeed prove that I was a Leung, despite my appearance.

I came home annoyed at the woman’s assumption. How did she know whether or not I was a Leung? If I wanted to steal someone’s mail, would I try to pretend I was someone by the last name of Leung?

I guess I’m not the only one whom the Postal employees have given a hard time. Lisa Williams posted her story today, demonstrating a bit more creativity and spunk in her response than my anger and offense.

I’ve been having a terrible time convincing the US Postal Service that my Dad is dead, and that they should send his mail to me, rather than to the person who lives in his old place. Last time I went over there I had this conversation with a postal worker about this:

“Well how do I know you’re not just some weird person trying to steal the guy’s mail?”

Now there’s a question few people have a stock answer to, no? And there are just so many ways to go with it. “As a matter of fact, I am a Weird American, but mail theft does not appear in my catalog of eccentricities.” “This is kind of a stupid way to steal someone’s mail, isn’t it? I mean, you’d know where I was.”

I appreciate that the Postal Service is trying to protect me (from myself!) and I realize that Identity Theft happens easily from stolen mail. Millions have had their identities stolen.

But there has to be a more intelligent protocol for the Post Office than assuming that someone is stealing mail. Isn’t it supposed to be that one is innocent until proven guilty? By the way, I too want to see the video when Lisa brings her dad’s ashes in to sign the forms…

Tags: culture