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The Postal Inspector warns Americans that holiday mail can be a holiday for thieves, too

Ever use “Hold for Pickup”? It might be a smart idea.

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Photo (c) Nicolas - Getty Images
Most of us probably think of the U.S. Postal Service as, well, the Postal Service. You know -- mail carriers and post offices.

But, behind every postage stamp is the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) – an agency that does its own thing, mandated to protect each one of our holiday cards and packages. And the agency is warning Americans that if we’re not vigilant, the next few weeks could turn into Unhappy Holidays at the hands of postal thieves.

To ensure that your mail and packages get to their rightful destinations, USPIS says the public can do seven simple things. 

Promptly pick up mail. Try not to leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door for any length of time. If you do, you’re essentially advertising that someone’s not home.

Deposit mail close to pickup time. As ConsumerAffairs found recently, mailbox thieves are a real thing and a mailbox is a treasure box full of credit cards and checks they can make their very own. USPIS suggests that if you’re using one of the USPS blue collection boxes for outgoing mail, you deposit those items before the last collection or inside your local Post Office. 

Inquire about overdue mail. On the flip side, if you’re expecting a check or credit card and don’t receive it within a reasonable amount of time, contact the sender as soon as possible and inquire about it.

Don't send cash. The message couldn’t be any simpler. Use a USPS Money Order instead.

Arrange for prompt pickup. Other than vacations, Americans probably don’t use the USPS Hold Mail service as often as they could, but during the holiday, the Postal Inspector thinks using it would be smart for anyone who might be away for even a day or two. 

Use Hold for Pickup. And the flipside narrative for package senders is a good idea, too. When shipping packages, use the Hold for PickUp option, and the recipients can collect the package at their local Post Office.

Request signature confirmation. If you’re looking for another layer of security that your package gets to the right person, consider requesting Signature Confirmation for the intended recipient.

USPIS has one last request: If you see a mail theft or fraud, report it. Otherwise, the crook gets away with the crime.

It is as easy as a phone call, too: 1-877-876-2455. You can also report crime by visiting USPIS.gov/Report.

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