USPS Warns About "Surge in Counterfeit Postage"—How to Protect Your Mail
Using the wrong stamps could keep your mail from ever being delivered.
When it comes to our mail, we expect the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to at the very least get it from one place to the next. But the process is not always so simple. Many different problems can arise along the way that could impede the Postal Service's operations: Everything from staffing shortages to hazardous weather can delay the agency from making its deliveries. But that's not the only reason mail gets held up. Now, the USPS is warning about a a "surge in counterfeit postage," which could get your mail thrown out. Read on to learn how to keep your deliveries safe.
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The USPS is warning about a rise in counterfeit postage.
The USPS is now alerting customers to a concerning problem affecting the postal system. On Feb. 15, the agency issued a new press release, warning the public about fraudulent postal stamps.
"In recent years, a surge in the use of counterfeit postage has been found in the mail stream," according to the Postal Service.
"Counterfeit postage is any marking or indicia that has been made, printed, or otherwise created without authorization from the Postal Service that is printed or applied, or otherwise affixed, on an article placed in the mails that indicates or represents that valid postage has been paid to mail the article," the USPS explained.
The agency has proposed new regulations to fight back against this problem.
This is not the first time the USPS has issued an alert about fake postage. Back in August, a local press release from the agency also warned customers that the "number of counterfeit stamps being sold from online platforms has escalated."
But with its most recent alert, the Postal Service has announced that it is now taking steps to stop this problem.
The USPS has filed a federal register notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to make changes to the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). The proposed adjustments will allow the agency to "treat items found in the mail stream bearing counterfeit postage as abandoned."
According to the USPS, abandoned mail can be opened and thrown away. This new amendment will help distinguish counterfeit postage from how the agency treats mail that has no postage, which is returned to the sender.
"The Postal Service is proposing to implement this change effective April 1, 2023," the agency said in its notice.
Your mail could be throw out as a result of these new regulations.
Counterfeit postage defrauds the USPS of "funds it needs to provide services to the public," according to the agency. As a result, the international use or sale of fraudulent stamps is considered a crime.
But with the Postal Service's proposed new changes, you could be affected even if you don't know you've come in contact with counterfeit postage.
"Consumers purchasing online items may be surprised to find out that the vendor mailed their goods using counterfeit postage," the USPS explained. "Under the new regulations, such items will be considered abandoned and disposed of at the Postal Service's discretion. When this occurs, consumers will have to seek recourse from the vendor."
You should be wary of cheap postage being sold online.
You may not be able to foresee that a vendor is mailing your packages with counterfeit postage, but you can protect yourself from accidentally buying fake stamps for your mail.
If postage is being sold online in bulk quantities at a significantly discounted price, that's usually a tell-tale sign that it's bogus, according to the USPS.
"Purchasing stamps from a third-party wholesaler or online websites can be unpredictable. You have no way to verify whether they are genuine or not," the agency warned. "The Postal Inspection Service recommends purchasing from Approved Postal Providers. Approved vendors can include legitimate 'big box' or warehouse retailers who do provide very small discounts on postage stamps, but this is through resale agreements with the Postal Service."