For 34 years, I have lived in the same house in Noblesville, and I have routinely picked up my mail from the black mailbox at the end of my driveway, appreciating and trusting in a great American institution – the United States Postal Service. In September 2018, that trust was violated by a neighbor when she unlawfully stole two envelopes that I had placed into my mailbox as outgoing mail. These two envelopes were of particular importance to me because they contained my quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS and the Indiana Dept. of Revenue totaling $15,900. As a U.S. citizen trying to show due diligence, I had carefully placed my checks with the appropriate mail vouchers containing my full name, address, Social Security number and banking information, including my bank routing number and account number. When I discovered that the envelopes were taken from my mailbox before the regular USPS truck came by, I was shocked and confused. Everything that a criminal would need to steal the identity of both my husband and myself was in those envelopes. I felt really stupid that I had placed checks in the mail only for them to be stolen. Then I remembered that I had previously requested to pay my estimated taxes using an electronic withdrawal, but the state of Indiana has only recently started to transition to an electronic payment system. I had only been trying to do my patriotic duty, but instead I ended up feeling foolish, violated and scared.
I immediately stopped payment on my two checks and I requested a security freeze for both my husband and myself with all three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). I filed a police report with the Noblesville Police Dept., and I also visited my local branch of KeyBank to notify them of what happened.
To date, the only direct financial damage to me has been a small service charge for the stop payment on my two checks. However, there has been a more subtle and long-lasting impact through emotional damage. I no longer feel comfortable placing outgoing mail in my mailbox at the end of our driveway. Instead, I drive my car to a secured U.S. Postal Box. I have also spent some money on a psychotherapist who has helped me with some anxiety and sleep issues. But the real damage is that I no longer trust one of the most enduring American institutions – the U.S. Postal Service.
It feels to me that our strong, reliable U.S. infrastructure has slowly started to decay and crumble. People have become numb to minor injustices and we have normalized unethical behavior. Whether it is political corruption, the president lying once again, celebrities committing sexual abuse, or just regular citizens who feel that lying, cheating and stealing have become the new norm, our society is sliding into moral decay. We have become numb and the symbols of light and truth that represent our judicial system have become a mockery. The president and the political leaders of our country are setting very poor examples that have encouraged the rationalization of dishonest behavior. I want to live in a society where I can trust our government institutions, and where truth and integrity still matter.
Dianne Roden, Noblesville