How To: Identify and Handle Suspicious Letters and Packages

Identifying and Handling Suspicious Letters and Packages

There have been a few recent incidences of mailed letters containing suspicious and/or lethal materials, typically of a powder consistency.

While your mail operation center may already x-ray incoming letters and packages, powdered materials would not be identified.

pos84Characteristics of a Suspicious Letter/Package

  • Unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you
  • Addressed to someone no longer with your organization
  • No return address or one that cannot be verified as legitimate
  • Unusual weight given its size or lopsided
  • Restrictive markings such as “Personal” or “Confidential”
  • Exhibits protruding wires, strange odors or stains
  • Postmarked from a city that does not match return address
  • Displays distorted handwriting or addresses with homemade labels or cut and paste lettering
  • Unprofessionally wrapped or secured with combinations or excessive tape
  • Excessive postage

What to do if you receive a suspected explosive device:

  • Do not open the parcel
  • Isolate the parcel
  • Evacuate the immediate area
  • Record the specific point in the screening process that caused the alert (excessive postage, no return address, lopsided or bulky).
  • Without touching the mailpiece, record from each visible side of the item all available information (name and address of sender and addressee, postmark, cancellation date, types of stamps and any other labels or markings).
  • Inform security team, call 911
  • If sent through the U.S. Mail, call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 2)

What to do if you receive a biological or chemical threat by mail:

  • Do not handle the mailpiece or package
  • Wash hands with soap and water
  • Evacuate the area
  • Isolate the mailpiece or package
  • Make sure all persons who have touched the mailpiece wash their hands with soap and water. Record all persons who have touched the mailpiece; include contact information
  • If the package or letter has been opened and powder spills out DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN IT UP. KEEP OTHERS AWAY FROM THE AREA.
  • Inform security team, call 911
  • If sent through the U.S. Mail, call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 2)
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