USPS focuses on fraud, employee safety

WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service and United States Postal Inspection Service have announced expanded actions to protect postal employees and the security of the nation’s mail and packages as threats and attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents have escalated with a national rise in crime.

“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,” said Postal Inspection Service Chief Gary Barksdale.

Incidents of letter carrier robberies are on the rise across the nation. In Fiscal year 2022, 412 USPS letter carriers were robbed on the job. With 305 incidents reported in the first half of Fiscal year 2023, these incidents are increasingly more prevalent. Additionally, the agency reported an increase in high volume mail theft incidents from mail receptacles, including blue collection boxes: 38,500 in FY22 and more than 25,000 in the first half of FY23.

As part of Project Safe Delivery, USPS and USPIS are making access to blue collection boxes more difficult for criminals. These boxes are now being deployed in high security risk areas through the next fiscal year. The Postal Service will continue to evaluate replacing additional existing blue collection boxes with these enhanced boxes.

There has been an increase in letter carrier robberies nationwide where criminals are targeting letter carriers for their Arrow and Modified Arrow Lock (MAL) Keys. Criminals use Arrow and MAL keys to steal mail from secure mail receptacles to commit financial crimes, including altering checks to commit check fraud. To make Arrow Keys less valuable for criminals, the Postal Service will replace 49,000 antiquated arrow locks with electronic locks. New locks have been installed in select cities with installation to occur in additional major metropolitan areas soon. The Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are also increasing Arrow Key accountability reviews in select high postal crime areas.

The Postal Service processed more than 33 million change of address transactions in FY222. The majority of address change frauds are driven by an identity theft motive.

In April, the Postal Service implemented dual authentication Identity Verification Services for online change of addresses transactions to provide enhanced security controls to reduce fraud. Effective May 31, the Postal Service will offer enhanced in-person change of address transactions at post offices and retail outlets. Customers can verify their identity by presenting an approved form of identification to a retail clerk.

Postal Service customers seeking an address change will now receive a validation letter at their old address and receive an activation letter at their new address. As an additional safeguard, the Postal Service will no longer accept third-party change of address submissions.

In FY2022, the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service seized more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps. Expanded actions to crack down on fraudulent postage include taking possession and disposing of packages with counterfeit postage, reviewing shipments at docks and warehouses, shutting down websites selling counterfeit postage, collaborating with Customs and Border Protection and offering rewards for information leading to arrest and conviction for counterfeiting.

Customers can take several steps to protect their mail and their letter carriers, including:

— Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox.

— Deposit outgoing mail through a number of secure manners including inside your local Post Office or at your place of business or by handing it to a letter carrier.

— Sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily digest emails that preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon.

— Become involved and engaged in neighborhood watches and local social media groups to spread awareness and share information.

— Keep an eye out for your letter carrier. If you see something that looks suspicious, or you see someone following your carrier, call 911.

Customers are encouraged to report stolen mail as soon as possible by submitting an online complaint to the Postal Inspection Service at uspis.gov/report or calling 877-876-2455. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to report allegations of Postal Service employee misconduct, including attempts to corrupt a Postal Service employee, to the USPS OIG at 1-888-877-7644 or uspsoig.gov.


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