Find Station

USPS Warns Against Using Their Blue Mailboxes

Photo: Getty Images

When you have a stamped letter to send, you don't always have to take it to the post office thanks to the thousands of blue mailboxes the United States Postal Service has installed on streets and corners across the country. However, even though the collection bins are incredibly convenient, it turns out they can also be a bit risky - so much so that the USPS has issued a warning to would-be mailers that the blue boxes might not be the best option.

The Postal Service explained in a press release that their blue bins have become hot spots for criminals looking to steal residents' identities as well as their mailed checks. The crimes tend to happen at specific times and on specific days. The agency stated, "The biggest variable enticing these criminals to steal are customers depositing mail into blue collection boxes after the last collection of the day or during Sundays and federal holidays."

So what should customers do? The USPS advises, "If customers simply used retail service or inside wall drop slots to send their U.S. Mail, instead of depositing it to sit outside overnight or through the weekend, blue collection boxes would not be as enticing after business hours to mail thieves for identity theft and check-washing schemes."

In a list of tips, they also suggest, "The most secure way to send mail is through the local Post Office retail counter. If that is not feasible, the next safest way is to use the inside collection slots that deposit mail directly into the Post Office. If using the Postal Service’s outside blue collection boxes, never deposit mail after the last dispatch time. Each box has dispatch times printed on a label, and it will point you to the location for the latest pickup time in your area. Avoid depositing mail during the night, Sundays, and federal holidays."

Since mail theft has become such a big issue, the Postal Service is hoping to incentivize customers to help put an end to it. They are offering rewards of up to $10,000 for anyone who submits a tip that helps them catch the bad guys. So stay alert and if you happen to see someone who doesn't look like a postal employee rummaging through a collection bin, especially during non-postal work hours, report it to your local police or call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.