APWU President William Burrus has asked the Wachovia Bank Corp. to stop airing a television commercial which strongly suggests that home mail delivery is the primary cause of identity theft.
“The 700,000 employees who operate the most efficient, reliable and cost-effective mail service in the world object to your characterization,” Burrus wrote in a May 30 letter to G. Kennedy Thompson, the bank’s CEO.
The ad shows an unidentified person driving up to a curbside residential mailbox, taking mail out, and pulling away. The commercial then goes on to tout Wachovia’s commitment to helping customers recover from identity theft.
“The ad’s implication is clearly unfounded,” the union president said in remarks the following day. “Only a miniscule portion of identity theft occurs through the mail.”
The Federal Trade Commission identifies six principal methods that identity thieves use to gather personal information from their victims:
- Skimming credit card numbers from transactions
- “Dumpster diving” for carelessly discarded personal and financial documents
- “Phishing” for personal information via e-mail
- Submitting fraudulent change-of-address forms
- Stealing wallets or bribing people with access to private information
- Using false pretenses to obtain private and financial information
In addition to the work postal employees perform sorting and distributing America’s mail, Burrus told Wachovia, “We are also consumers of goods and services in each community throughout the country.” When APWU members select the banks they will use, they will choose institutions that show appreciation for the services we provide the American people, he warned.
“We respectfully request that Wachovia stop airing the advertisement or modify it to afford our nation’s postal system the respect it has earned through more than 220 years of service.”
Postmaster General John E. Potter criticized the ad as well. In remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on May 30, he said, “I have no problem with competition…. All I ask for is a little honesty when you’re doing it.”
“To me it’s absurd that the bank is pointing to the mail when we know that [the Web] is like the Wild Wild West,” Potter said.