What The Tech: Post Office Pictures

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Did you know you can find out what’s in your mailbox without checking the mailbox? The Post Office will send you pictures of what’s in your mail every morning. It’s convenient if you’re expecting something important. It’s also convenient for bad guys and if you don’t sign up for it, someone else might. Here’s why you should sign up on the USPS website:

It’s called “Informed Delivery” and you’ll see it at www.usps.com as a menu item at the top right of the screen. Anyone who signs up on the USPS website, they’ll get an email every morning with photos of your mail.

You can see if there’s anything important or just a bunch of junk. In one morning email, I could see there would be a paycheck, bank statement, credit card offers, and a direct-mail advertisement for a local yard care company. The grayscale photos were taken, or scanned by the postal service every morning and are then emailed to you. Convenient right?

But here’s the worrisome part: anyone can sign up. Even someone not living at the address and with no right to know what’s in your mail. All anyone has to do is visit the U.S. Post Office website.

To test it out, I signed up for my mom and dad’s address. It only asks for a name, address, an a couple of security questions and answers. Minutes later, I got a confirmation email that I had successfully signed up and could see what’ll arrive that day and that week. The post office added security safeguards last year including mailing out a confirmation letter to the resident’s address. Apparently, though, crooks have gotten around this safeguard by stealing that letter out of the mailbox. Every week there are news reports of people being arrested for abusing Informed Delivery to steal mail, credit cards, and identities.

The Secret Service warns law enforcement agencies that criminals have signed up for credit cards in someone else’s name. When they get the emailed photos, they look for a photo of the credit card company. When the bad guy sees the envelope will be delivered that day, they stake
out of the mailbox waiting for it to arrive. It’s easy to sign up for informed delivery.

Go to the signup page on the U.S. post office website. Enter the house address and a name and select a username and password to log in to the account. There really isn’t a reason not to sign up as getting photos of what to expect in the mail each day can be very helpful. It also allows you to report a piece of mail that didn’t arrive.

It’s imperative to sign up for your mailing address or opt-out so no one else can sign up for your address and intercept your mail. When you sign up the website will let you know if your mailing address has already been registered and enrolled. If you don’t remember ever signing up before and if you haven’t been receiving the daily emails, it’s best to report it to the U.S.P.S. and to the police.