SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s not uncommon for the occasional letter to arrive a bit torn in the mail. But when two dozen people in nearby Upstate neighborhoods found what appeared to be cleanly torn sensitive mail, it got a Spartanburg County man worried it might be a case of fraud.

A daily trip to the mailbox is usually nothing for Danny Crout, in Moore, to write home about. But when he recently got a Social Security mailing that had been torn open, Crout said he was disturbed.

“I was surprised, number one, when it was torn open, and I was absolutely shocked when I could tell you could open it up like that, and you could see your social, the amount of money that you got and that’s all somebody needs, of course, your name’s right here. That’s all they need,” Crout said.

And, what’s more, Crout said, the tear seemed rather clean, as if on purpose. He said he doesn’t believe it was done by a machine.

His wife’s Social Security mailing had come one day prior, fully sealed.

“The longer we thought about it, the more we said we’ve got to do something about this,” said Mrs. Crout.

So she went on the Nextdoor app to let nearby neighborhoods in Spartanburg County know. Within a day, 91 responses came back, 24 of which were from people with similar stories of recent torn Social Security or W2 mailings.

She showed us a post where someone had written: “Also torn, one perforated side cleanly gone. We have Informed Delivery, and the image shows it was not torn when it was scanned and sorted. Everyone with torn statements should file a complaint with USPS.”

Informed Delivery is a tool anyone can sign up for to get emailed images of the mail that’s expected to arrive. Most photos are taken at the USPS Processing and Distribution Center on Fairforest Way in Greenville.

7NEWS went to the Moore Post Office that serves most of the 12 neighborhoods where the torn mail was discovered, but the branch could not comment. The Crouts confirmed one of the Nextdoor posts referenced that post office when it said: “Just got mine from my P.O. Box and it is opened as well.”

7NEWS reached out to the United States Postal Service to ask for an interview. The agency instead sent a statement that reads in part:

“We apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced by customers living in the Spartanburg Post Office servicing areas. In this instance, local management has been made aware and is taking steps to address their concerns.”

Credit Freeze

If you think someone has had access to your private information, it’s crucial to freeze your credit with all three credit reporting agencies:

  1. Experian
  2. TransUnion
  3. Equifax

And that’s exactly what Crout ended up doing.

“This was absolutely intentional as far as I’m concerned. It’s the way this was torn very neatly, the fact that it happened to so many people, and even the Moore Post office mail deliverers acknowledged that so many of this very same piece of paper was torn,” Crout said.

Filing Fraud Report with USPS

Crout also filed a fraud report with the Postal Service by going to Scroll to the bottom and press “report now,” then click the word “report” in the box that says “Mail Fraud” and fill out the form.

He urges anyone who discovers clean tears of sensitive mail to do the same.