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Crime and Courts

Postal Service Launches Email Notification Service To Help Identify Mail Theft

Mailbox.jpg
Andrew Taylor
/
flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Postal Service has launched a new service to help people keep track of incoming mail before it’s delivered to the mailbox.

That way, they’ll know if any mail is missing.

The program is called Informed Delivery, and if you sign up, the post office will send you an email each morning with detailed images of your incoming mail.

The black and white images show the exterior of your actual letter-sized mail pieces, including the sender’s address. Images of catalogues or magazines may be added in the future.

The postal service is already taking digital images during the mail sorting process, and now will provide them free to residential customers.

Mail theft has been an issue in Sedgwick County the past few years.

Last month, 11 people were charged in a federal indictment in a case that involves stealing mail from Wichita mailboxes, identity theft and bank fraud.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says the scheme began in 2012 when Wichita police learned that a U.S. Postal Service vehicle was burglarized and a master key was stolen. The key could open mailboxes throughout the Wichita metro area.

The indictment, released in early March, says copies of the stolen key were used to steal mail, including checks and money orders. Investigators say the suspects tried to cash the checks and money orders by adding a person’s name to the payee line, removing the original payee and substituting another name, forging signatures of account holders, and making counterfeit checks using the stolen information.

A conviction could bring the following penalties:

  • Receipt of stolen mail: Up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count
  • Theft of mail: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count
  • Bank fraud: Up to 30 years and a fine up to $1 million on each count
  • Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years (consecutive) and a fine up to $250,000 on each count
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000

The USPS says providing advance notice of mail delivery allows users to have access to their household mail whenever and wherever—even while traveling.
Informed Delivery is offered to residential consumers who have mail delivered to their homes. However, the service is not currently being provided to businesses.

An email will be generated each day your household receives mail that is processed through USPS. Notifications are not sent on days when there is no mail to be delivered, or on Sundays or federal holidays.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 
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