Postal Inspector Mailing Tips: Secure Your Holiday Packages

Simone Graham – Editor: Postal Inspector USPS: This holiday season the Postal Service looks forward to delivering a great deal of holiday cheer along with more than 15 billion mail pieces. Consumers trust the Postal Service to deliver secure and economical shipping options.

The Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement arm of the Postal Service, is working around-the-clock to keep your important shipments safe and deter mail and parcel theft.

In addition, USPS offers 10 secure shipping tips, that provide options to help ensure your important packages reach their destination, and brighten the lives of friends and loved ones this holiday season.

If you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind the USPS truck or unknown persons loitering around mailboxes, immediately report the activity to your local police department and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. The package you save may be your own. If you think that you are a victim of a crime involving the mail, you may submit an online complaint, by visiting, and selecting the Postal Inspectors link at the bottom of the page (

Ten Ways to Protect

1. Avoid sending cash by mail. Checks and money orders are safer than cash and may be cancelled or reissued in the event of theft.

2. Do not leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Just as wallets and purses should not be left on the front seat of an unlocked car overnight, mail and packages should not be left uncollected in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.

3. Consider an alternate shipping address. Customers can arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day or get packages delivered at work, if permitted.

4. Change the package’s address — while it’s in transit! Customers who know they will not be home when their package is delivered can try USPS Package Intercept. Prior to delivery, most domestic package shipments can be redirected back to the sender, to a new address or to the Post Office to be held for pickup.

5. Customize the delivery. If the package does not fit in the mailbox and the customer will not be home to receive it, the customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit, enter the tracking number and select Delivery Instructions. Customers can also request their packages be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.

6. Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping packages, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipients can collect the packages at their local Post Office. For customers receiving packages, they can redirect incoming packages to their local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.

7. Going out of town? Hold mail at the local Post Office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the local Post Office until the customers return.

8. Secure the shipment using USPS Signature Services. Signature Services help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.

9. Choose the most secure form of delivery. For the most valuable packages, customers can opt for Registered Mail service. Registered Mail receives special handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.

10. PO Boxes might be the answer. Customers concerned about the security of their mail can consider renting a Post Office Box at their local Post Office. The mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing customers to retrieve mail on their schedule.

UPS offers similar tips to protect your packages:

1. Have the shipment sent to where you are. If you are at work during the day you can have packages delivered to where you work. You can also choose to have things sent to a relative or neighbor who is home during the day.
2. Leave instructions for where you would like your packages left, for example, in the shed in the backyard, or behind the garage, etc.
3. If a package is stolen, contact the shipper and file a police report.


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