USPS Cracking Down on Mail Theft—Expect These Changes to Your Mail
The postal agency is rolling out more crime prevention measures.
We put an awful lot of trust in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Whether you're sending out your monthly rent check or waiting for essential forms to arrive, the USPS is responsible for protecting sensitive financial documents on a daily basis. Recently, however, the agency's security has been called into question. Reports of mail theft have been mounting, with people all across the U.S. speaking out about stolen checks and financial fraud. In light of this, the USPS is promising to crack down on mail theft with new measures. Read on to find out what changes you should expect as a result.
READ THIS NEXT: USPS Is Making More Changes to Your Mail, Starting June 13.
Mail theft has become more prevalent.
It's not just anecdotal reports: Mail theft has gotten worse. In a May 12 press release, the USPS confirmed that there has recently been an "increase in high volume mail theft incidents from mail receptacles including blue collection boxes."
According to the agency, there were over 38,500 reports of mail theft from these mailboxes in the 2022 fiscal year. But in just the first half of the 2023 fiscal year, there have already been more than 25,000 reports.
And that's not all. Robberies targeting mail carriers are also "on the rise across the nation," the USPS said. According to the agency, 412 USPS workers were robbed while on the job last year. And with 305 carrier robberies already reported in the first half of this year, "these incidents are increasingly more prevalent," the Postal Service warned.
The USPS says it is cracking down on this issue.
"As crime rises, so do the threats against our public servants," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. "The men and women of the Postal Service are walking our nation's streets every day to fulfill our mission of delivering mail and packages to the American people. Every Postal employee deserves to work in safety and to be free from targeting by criminals seeking to access the public's mail."
In order to protect postal employees, as well as ensure the continued security of people's mail and packages, the Postal Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) are expanding their joint "Project Safe Delivery" crime prevention initiative.
"We're doubling down on our efforts to protect our Postal employees and the security of the mail. We are hardening targets—both physical and digital—to make them less desirable to thieves and working with our law enforcement partners to bring perpetrators to justice," USPIS Chief Gary Barksdale said in a statement.
This will include major adjustments to the agency's system.
As part of its expanded Project Safe Delivery initiative, the USPS and the USPIS are rolling out new prevention measures focused on three specific areas: reducing letter carrier robberies and mail theft, preventing change of address fraud, and defeating counterfeit postage. As part of the first, the agency will install 12,000 high security blue collection boxes nationwide and replace 49,000 arrow locks with electronic locks.
Collection boxes in high security risk areas have already started being replaced with the new safer versions, "making access to their contents more difficult for criminals," the USPS said.
New electronic locks have also already been installed in select cities in order to "make arrow keys less valuable," according to the agency. Criminals have been robbing mail carriers for their arrow keys to "steal mail from secure mail receptacles to commit financial crimes, including altering checks to commit check fraud," the Postal Service explained.
You should also expect changes to your mail.
The Postal Service is also making some changes that could more noticeably affect customers as part of its expanded protection measures.
To start, the agency is now working to strengthen its change-of-address (COA) authentication process to prevent fraud. As part of these changes, the USPS will no longer accept third-party COA submissions, and customers seeking a COA will now get a validation letter sent to their old address as well as an activation letter to their new address.
Starting May 31, the agency will begin offering "enhanced" in-person COA address transactions at post offices and retail outlets as well. "COA customers can verify their identity by presenting an approved form of identification to a retail clerk," the USPS explained.
On top of mail theft and COA-based fraud, the Postal Service is also looking to battle a rise in counterfeit postage. In 2022, more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps were discovered, according to the agency. This resulted in an estimated $7.8 million loss for the Postal Service.
To crack down on this, the agency will now fully exercise "new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage." That means that if you use any of this postage—even if just by accident—your mail could be destroyed.