How to protect against mail theft

Monday, December 21, 2009

Every day, the US Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards and other valuable items. Unfortunately, such items of value are also attractive to thieves. That's why Postal Inspectors across the country are at work to protect your mail. But with deliveries to more than 100 million addresses, the Postal Inspection Service can't do the job alone.


Here's what you can do to protect your mail from thieves:
  • Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier. Do not put outgoing mail in an unsecured mail box
  • Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won't be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
  • Have your local post office hold your mail while you're on vacation, or absent from your home for a long period of time.
  • If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
  • If you change your address, immediately notify your post office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
  • Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes (as well as homes). If you observe a mail thief at work, call the local police immediately, and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. You'll be asked to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. By analyzing information collected from the form, Postal Inspectors may determine whether your problem is isolated or part of a larger mail theft problem in your neighborhood--and it may help Postal Inspectors locate and apprehend the thieves.

Consult with your local postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes. In the City of Shoreline you must have a city right of way permit for installation of cluster box units. Contact City of Shoreline, Planning and Development Services Department, 206-801-2500, and ask to speak to a permit technician for more information.

From the US Postal Inspector via Nora Smith, City of Shoreline
Photo of Cluster Mail Box by Jeanne Monger

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