Best Practices for Mail Center Security
Now, Inspectors from the U. S. Postal Inspection Service are available to review mail center operations. These security reviews can pinpoint risks that could lead to mail theft or open the door to other security issues.
Inspectors also can schedule a workshop for a company’s mail center employees to educate them on how to handle suspicious mail and deliver tips to help improve security for businesses and their employees.
For more information, or to schedule a visit from the Inspection Service, call 877-876-2455 (press 5).
The following tips have been abridged from the USPS Postal Inspection Service guide “Security of the Mail”. These guidelines apply to both your internal mail center as well as any outsourced mail houses (presort services, lettershop, etc).
- Notify internal and external customers, as appropriate, of steps taken to ensure safety of mail
- Control or limit access of employees, known visitors and escorted visitors to the mail center with sign-in sheets, badges, and/or card readers. (For large mail operations, include plant, workroom floor, etc.)
- Subject to emergency exit safety requirements, lock all outside doors and/or prohibit doors from being propped open
- Require deliveries to be made in a restricted, defined area
- 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
- If a separate processing area is used, it should not be part of the central ventilation system
- Shut-off points of processing area’s ventilation system should be mapped and should be part of an emergency procedures handout
- Separate processing area should include appropriate personnel protection equipment and disposal instructions for such equipment, as approved by the CDC
- Designate and publish/post evacuation routes for emergency situations
- Conduct training, emergency preparedness drills, and information update meetings, as necessary
- X-ray all incoming mail. (Large mail centers.)
- Maintain a Suspicious Package Profile
- Ensure appropriate emergency access numbers are posted by or on every phone. Such numbers should include: call 911; CDC at 770-488-7100; local Postal Inspector; or local police or fire department
- Maintain updated employee lists (name, address, phone/cell phone), and keep back-up copy off-site
- Provide only vacuum systems for cleaning equipment, not forced air systems
- If not already done, alter receiving procedures to require a manifest with all shipments and practice the acceptance of “complete” shipments only
- Discarded envelopes, packages, boxes should be placed in a covered container and transported to the loading dock for removal. (Ensure local arrangements are in place for disposal of such material.)
Guidelines for Mail Center Theft Prevention
Mail is sometimes lost or stolen from company mail centers, or while en route to or from the Post Office. Much of this mail is quite valuable, containing cash, jewelry, and other high-value items. Needless to say, such losses are costly to the company and its investors. The following are some suggestions for improving theft prevention in your mail center operation:
- Know your employees. Don’t put your new hires in your mail center without a criminal record check.
- Secure your mail center. Prevent access by unauthorized persons. Keep locked whenever possible, especially when no one is on duty. Maintain a sign-in sheet for persons entering and leaving the mail center, including times of arrival and departure.
- Registered Mail™. Keep separate from other mail. Document transfer of Registered Mail by requiring the receiver to sign for custody.
- Protect company funds. If company funds are handled as part of the mail center operations, establish adequate controls to fix individual responsibility for any losses that may occur.
- Keep postage meters secure. Postage meters should be secured when not in use. Check mails periodically to determine if employees are using company postage meters for their personal mail.
- Vary times and lines of travel between post office and plant. If currency or other valuable mail is sent or received, check periodically to see if mail messengers are making unauthorized stops or is leaving mail unattended in unlocked vehicles.
Employees caught stealing should be prosecuted. There is no greater deterrent to a potential thief than the fear that he/she may go to jail. The Postal Inspection Service will extend its full cooperation.