Mail In The Wrong Hands Can Be Dangerous

By Don Thordsen
Delivery and Security Manager, Terrorism Liaison Officer
Colorado Division of Central Services

The world has changed. There are threats around every corner, including the mail – whether public or private sector, individual or business, in the wrong hands mail can be weaponized – equaling the wrong kind of power. That is why everyone needs to know the advantages of securing mail for safety of yourself, customers, and employees.

What would you or a business associate do if something were included in an envelope – powder, a weapon, a bomb? What are the steps to take to keep yourself and others safe? It is not always the biochemist developing anthrax and sending it to random government agencies or businesses – most of the time it turns out to be a homegrown individual who wants to disrupt the flow of business and government.

This article was published in the March/April MAIL Magazine. Click for PDF

Are they looking for fame or looking to do real harm? Could this be former employees that want to get even by putting laundry detergent or sugar in an envelope, sit back, and watch as everybody panics. What about the individual that was affected by a decision by your company that effected their personal life, a change in banking hours, a change in healthcare, political association, a personal relationship. Either way, this disrupts the everyday schedules, causing downtime, safety concerns, and unnecessary stress.
So what precautions should one take?

1. Develop a Plan

To start, having a specific drop-off area such as a mailroom, reception desk, or other designated location can isolate a small area compared to a whole office, building, or city block if a crisis does occur. Seek assistance from law enforcement and develop partnerships to ease the stress during these types of events. Let’s face it, nobody wants to encounter this type of occurrence and with being proactive and setting protocols, even a large emergency response can run smoothly.

2. Be Attentive

Once mail or a package is received, examine it – look for stains, too much postage, incorrect name spellings, or bad grammar. It doesn’t take a lot of time or common sense to notice something out of the ordinary. Use posters and other helpful tools for employees to have on hand to learn what is acceptable and what is questionable. If your business and customers require more security, consider a small x-ray machine or biohazard sniffer that can detect different types of weapons, hazardous materials, bombs, and other unknown objects.

3. Education

Attend classes that are provided by professionals at mail conferences, online seminars, or possibly local USPS representatives. Seek knowledge from other companies that may have the knowledge or processes that can help you. Call your local fire and police department and have a basic procedure given to your employees, so if something just isn’t right, they know who to call and what to do so you can handle the situation in a calm manner. A good source is the U.S. Postal Service and a local mail house – private agencies that develop screening devises for mail.

4. Make a checklist

Is your mailroom or mail drop-off area secure? Who has access? Do you have protocols in place? Who sorts and distributes the mail and/or packages? Does the piece of mail or package need to go through the x-ray machine? Many times, anyone can just walk in, leave a piece of mail or package, and walk away without seeing anyone – and, the item never went through the USPS. How about private vendors… it’s not only the USPS who makes deliveries – get to know your couriers. Install a simple key lock or badge scanner so someone can control who enters the area and have a record of it; install a camera over the receiving area so in an event, there are videos or records to help emergency responders assess what happened.

Some tips from the USPS include 1) Control or limit access of employees; 2) Require deliveries to be made in a restricted area; 3) Keep mail processing in a separate area.

5. Emergency Response Plan

Take time to find out who your contacts are for the fire department and police department and who would handle hazmat emergencies. Invite them to your facility; show them the access points and best routes to get to the area affected. Tell them if you have coded doors and locked fences. Talk to them, and if possible, let them be part of your security system by giving them a Knox box with an override key so when the building is closed, the responders have access to the area when the main contact may not be there. Knox boxes are used by emergency responders and are mounted outside the building or area where it can provide an access key. The responders have the key that opens that box to allow access to your key to gain access to the affected area.

Have a call down list available to staff so during an event the correct individuals can be contacted. Move all effected customers or staff away from the affected area without panic. Lock down the area and wait for your emergency responders. If a suspicious material is found, never move it – leave it on the table or desk and walk away. When moved, it risks effecting others and the environment around you.

Again, make an emergency plan, work on partnerships, learn as much as you can, and have a checklist. The sooner something is in place, the more secure your mail will be – which equals a safer environment for you, customers, and employees. Remember, even the smallest of changes in your mail security are better than not taking the initiative to make a change.

* Restrict drivers (rest areas) to an area that is separate from the production/mail center facilities

* Use video cameras inside and outside the facility/docks, as feasible

* Keep the area for processing incoming and outgoing mail separate from all other operations, as feasible


  • This holiday season, we know that identity thieves will be targeting not just our inboxes, but our mailboxes,” said District Attorney Vance. “So, we’re putting scammers on notice: the Manhattan D.A.’s Office has the expertise, resources, and partnerships in cybercrime and identity theft to find you and hold you accountable. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the NYPD to stamp out fraud and protect the integrity of a service relied upon by millions of New Yorkers." [...]
  • The U.S. Postal Service pursued a project to build and secretly test a blockchain-based mobile phone voting system before the 2020 election, experimenting with a technology that the government’s own cybersecurity agency says can’t be trusted to securely handle ballots. [...]
  • The United States Postal Service reported new service delivery performance metrics showing stable service performance for First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail and Periodicals through the first nine weeks of the fiscal first quarter. [...]
  • The United States Postal Service hereby gives notice of delayed implementation of the classification changes for the new Nonstandard Fees and Dimension Noncompliance Fee. Specifically, the Postal Service will delay implementation of those fees until April 3, 2022. [...]
  • Take advantage of USPS's Electronic Verification System (eVS) with Eii's Postal Steward eVS Solution. This is a fully integrated system for creating and submitting eVS mailings to the USPS's PostalOne! for greater ease of control over paying for and documenting your high-volume mailings. [...]
  • Imagine the customer’s plight at having to type it on your order form! Thankfully most city and street names have fewer characters but the spellings can still be quite confusing. Making a spelling mistake when entering addresses is not just frustrating for customers who may get their orders late but also bad for your database. [...]
  • Alliance Rubber offers more than just rubber bands. Its Mailing/Storage Tubes are designed for anything that can be rolled in a commercial grade .050" wall thickness [...]
  • The USPS released Important information about upcoming January 2022 Release changes … (click to [...]
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission announced today that Michael M. Kubayanda has returned to the agency as chairman. After being re-nominated by President Joseph R. Biden and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Chairman Kubayanda was sworn back into office today, December 9, 2021, to serve a term through November 22, 2026. [...]
  • Supply chain disruptions, transportation network challenges and various reasons for downtime at mills added stress to the already limited paper market. Coated freesheet inventories were low to begin with and haven’t been able to keep up with further shortages caused by plants going offline. [...]
  • From CNBC: Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide consumer, told CNBC on Monday that the company is on track to become the nation’s largest delivery service by the end of [...]
  • From Detroit News: An Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation, preventing drivers from getting routes or packages and [...]
  • MAILCOM returns from its COVID hiatus with the MAILCOM 2022 Annual Spring Convention, March 28-30 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Updates and registration information can [...]
  • Polaris Direct has installed a second Truepress Jet520ZZ and two Bowe Systec Fusion Cross inserters to handle the growing demand for Roll-Fed Digital Inkjet technology. Pictured is the Polaris Direct team with the new Truepress. [...]
  • BlueCrest, the former Pitney Bowes DMT, has acquired Fluence Automation, formerly the sortation business of Bell and Howell. Fluence will become part of BlueCrest, and in the short-term will be referred to as Fluence Automation, A BlueCrest Company. [...]