The City of Sydney is calling for new design standards on apartment mailboxes to protect residents from identity theft and fraud.
In a submission to Standards Australia, the City of Sydney has called for the existing Aust–NZ Standard for mailbox location and lock requirements to be extended to cover apartment buildings.
A revised design standard would allow the City and other councils to amend planning controls and require new developments to have mailboxes installed inside secure areas, with individual locks and keys for each apartment mailbox.
“There is currently no design standard for mailbox location and lock requirements for apartment buildings,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“More than three quarters of our residents live in apartments and this leaves many of them vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
“We’re working with NSW Police and other agencies in the MailSafe campaign to advocate for new measures to protect Sydneysiders from identity fraud.”
As the existing standard only covers mailboxes for individual homes, developers often fail to volunteer details about the location and design of apartment building mailboxes in development applications, making it impossible for planners to make an accurate assessment.
NSW Police has advised the City that organised crime syndicates are known to exploit these flaws, using master keys to access multiple mailboxes, steal personal mail and commit identity fraud. Such crime costs the Australian community $2.2 billion annually.
Sydney based builder and plumber, Tony Bezzina, knows all too well the impact of mail theft and identity fraud. When criminals stole mail from his Lilyfield home, they had all they needed to access his phone number, port it across to a new network, and access his email and bank account.
“They moved money around in my bank account, transferred money out, started a new bank account and started an online shopping account in my name. They went into my personal emails. They violated my privacy,” Mr Bezzina said.
A number of his neighbours were also targeted, with reports of mailboxes being broken into and mail being stolen.
“A lot of people don’t think it will happen to them. It’s not something that I thought would ever really happen to me,” Mr Bezzina said.
“You have to try to protect your mail or at least slow the criminals down by having a more secure mailbox.”
The City’s submission has the support of all members of the MailSafe initiative, including NSW Police, Australia Post, Crimestoppers Australia, UTS Design Out Crime, the Australasian Master Locksmiths Association and the Owners Corporation Network.
MailSafe encourages all residents to clear their mail regularly, use padlocks on letter boxes and arrange to have mail redirected when they are away.