Posts Tagged NCOA

USPS | How A Letter Travels OR How Does My Mail Carrier Know Where I Am?

How A Letter Travels OR How Does My Mail Carrier Know Where I Am?

USPSmailIn discussing with a customer the USPS Move Update requirements, she was curious how the letter carrier knows to take the letter to her house even though the address is wrong.

Here at Strahm Automation we use several processes to meet Move Update compliance.

Some customers choose NCOA as a pre-printing step – saving them printing and postage on addresses that may not ultimately make it into a mailbox. As well, they get reporting back of updated addresses and addresses that are just flat out “bad”.

Many presort only customers choose Move Comply as their update method. This process takes place at the presort level. Our MLOCR sorters bounce the address on the envelope against a USPS database and spray the correct barcode onto the envelope.

Back to Mary and her question of how the carrier knows exactly where to deliver her mail, this informative piece from the USPS gives a great overview of how a letter travels through the mail stream. I hope you find it enjoyable!

https://about.usps.com/publications/pub100/pub100_078.htm

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USPS | What’s the Difference Between CASS and NCOA?

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces? Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Thousands in USPS Fines!

US Postal Service EMM Trays

Perils of Printers without Mail House Experience

If your printed piece is going out in the mail, how important is it to choose a printer with in-house mail capabilities?

Last week we had a meeting with a local printer who found this out the hard way. Due to their lack of experience in mailing, they were subject to some hefty USPS fines.

Certainly an avoidable situation, but how do you make a print/mail vendor selection?  Contact them directly and by all means request a tour of the facility. Here are some helpful questions to ask.

  • Ask for credentials.
    • Are they a USPS sanctioned mail co-mingler?
    • Do they provide NCOA, LACSlink or Fast Forward services?
    • Do they provide CASS certification?
    • Do they have an onsite USPS verifier?
    • Do they have an onsite MERLIN?
    • Does the USPS pick up from their dock, or do they deliver to BMEU?
    • Do key employees hold any industry certifications?  How often are they updated?
  • What services do they provide within their own production facility?
    • Color, highlight color, and black and white printing?
    • MICR capable?
    • Inkjet addressing for postcards or envelopes?
    • Collating?
    • Folding?
    • Intelligent mail inserters?
    • Match mailings?
    • HIPAA compliant?
  • How secure is their facility?
    • What is their business continuity plan?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan?
    • Secure building access?
    • 24/7 video monitoring of facility and production floor?
    • If mail is delivered to them, is it left unattended on the dock?
    • Are employees background checked?
An ounce of prevention is worth thousands in USPS fines!

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USPS | Seeing An Increase In Return To Sender Mail?

Seeing An Increase In Return To Sender Mail?

officieel_Return_To_Sender_LogoA change to the Postal Service’s workforce is likely to mean an increase in mail that will be marked as Undeliverable as Addressed or Return to Sender.

Why is this you ask? A shift to using “transitional” carriers is changing the way your mail is cased and delivered. Long time carriers (or career carriers) have a deep knowledge of their routes, meaning they are often able to deliver despite poorly addressed pieces such as misspellings, missing apartment or suite numbers, etc. The USPS delivers approximately 2.2 billion pieces of mail annually that do not have complete, accurate address information. USPS claims that this special handling results in a cost to them of about $160 million each year.

USPS returned, forwarded or destroyed almost 7 billion UAA (Undeliverable as Addressed) mail at a cost of more than $1.2 billion.

What can you as a mailer do to help reduce the amount of UAA mail and make sure your mail reaches the recipient in the most expedient way? Make use of all the tools available for creating and maintaining a superior database.

As a pre-printing option, use a National Change of Address process. Your list is basically bounced against the USPS database and any addresses where a Change of Address was filed with USPS are updated. You can get a list of these addresses returned to you so you can update your database. Using NCOA as a pre-print process also saves you money on printing, envelopes and postage since you are mailing to better addresses.

Post production, consider enrolling in USPS Address Change Service. You will get a report with any updated addresses. Or try Move Comply usually available from your local mail service provider to update pieces with an improved address barcode.

Questions about creating and maintaining a clean database, or complying with USPS Move Update regulations? Call one of Strahm’s dedicated Customer Service Representatives. They will be glad to answer any questions.

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USPS | Difference Between CASS vs NCOA

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces?  Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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USPS | The 411 on NCOAlink

What YOU Need To Know About  NCOALink

“We currently have our vendor run NCOALink on our mailing lists, why do we continue to receive Undeliverable As Addressed returns?”

ncoa-move-software

NCOALink stands for National Change of Address. This is a process provided only by licensed vendors to accept your database and “bounce” it against the most current USPS National Change of Address database.

Anyone, be it an individual person, a family or a business, who submits a Change of Address form to the USPS is updated within the database. Comparing your database to that of the USPS, if there is a move detected you are provided with that new address.

This is a process done before you print/mail so there is a cost savings by making corrections to or eliminating records with undeliverable addresses. This also gets your mailpiece into the recipient’s mailbox faster because it doesn’t need to be handled multiple times by the USPS forwarding mail on to the new address. Getting the mail to the mailbox faster is a plus when your company is mailing payable statements or invoices – faster to the box = faster you may receive payment, right?

In 2008, the USPS mandated Move Update compliance. Your address list must be updated no more than 90 days prior to presenting to the USPS for mailing.  NCOALink meets Move Update requirements.

As to the question of why you continue to receive Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail returned to you even after you’ve had your list NCOALink processed. Some of these pieces may be due to a legitimate move, but no one submitted a Change of Addreess (COA) form to the USPS. If the move occurred more than 18 months ago, this First Class piece of mail will be returned to you; the address could be a vacant home or building; the recipient may be deceased.

But there are other, trickier reasons a mailpiece may be returned.

If a COA form has been submitted to USPS, but in your database you have listed John A. Sample, and John submitted his COA as only John Sample, NCOALink will return to you a “close match”. It will be left to you to decide if this is an address you want to change/update within your database.

If an entire family moved, but John A. Sample submitted a COA showing only his name and marked as an individual, Mary B. Sample may result in a UAA. A move may also have occurred between the time you had your data NCOALink processed and the time of the actual mailing.

NCOALink provides many benefits, enhancing your overall mailing. NCOALink

  • Improves address quality through standardization and parsing.
  • Speeds delivery of your offer by eliminating forwarding.
  • Is less expensive than ACS (Address Change Service)
  • Reduces undeliverable mail resulting in postage and material savings.
  • Helps maintain accurate customer address files.
  • Provides CASS™ certification of your list enabling you to qualify for postal discounts.

Talk to your printing/mailing vendor and discover how NCOALink can improve your mail today! With an estimated 43 million moves made per year, keeping your database current can reap significant cost savings.

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USPS Update | Move Update Requirements

On January 27, 2013 ,

FASTforward Service Will No Longer Satisfy USPS Move Update Requirements.

Many presort service providers use FASTforward for their customer’s mail in order to meet mandates. The FASTforward system uses Multiline Optical Character Readers (MLOCRs) to update and spray change of address (COA) information on mailpieces prior to submission to the USPS. 

Move Update requirements help mailers claiming presort or automation prices for First Class Mail or Standard Mail to reduce the number of mailpieces requiring forwarding or return by matching their address records with COA listings maintained by the Postal Service. 

New services using MLOCR include NCOALink  Mail Processing Equipment. This solution allows mailers to process mailpieces against the Postal Service COA database, providing current address information for customers who have filed a COA order. There are approximately 160 million permanent USPS COA records. Licensees (such as your presort service provider) receive a weekly update for all address changes over the last 18 months. 

Make sure to check in with your service provider to ensure a smooth transition. It may mean signing a new Process Acknowledgement Form (PAF) for whatever new system your provider chooses after January 27th.

A Process Acknowledgement Form (PAF) is required by the Privacy Act of 1974. The USPS requires that each mail service provider using an NCOA product for their customers must have a completed NCOA PAF for each customer. These agreements should be updated annually. 

What steps should you take?

  1. Speak with your presort service provider. If you are currently using FASTforward to meet Move Update requirements, what method will they use moving forward
  2. Ask if you need to complete a new PAF for your service providers files.

If you have any question about these changes, please feel free to contact one of our Customer Service Representatives at (816)756-2733.

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What Makes Mail UAA?

Why Was My Mail Returned As Undeliverable?

What makes mail UAA?

Last week we suggested that reducing Undeliverable As Addressed mailpieces could provide savings to your mailing budget. What are your costs when you consider designing, printing, folding, inserting, and applying postage to mail that never gets where it is intended? It costs the USPS, on average, $0.513 per piece to handle this undeliverable mail.

What factors go into determining whether mail is Undeliverable As Addressed?

  • No postage
  • Incomplete, illegible, or incorrect address
  • Addressee not at address (unknown, moved or deceased)
  • Mail  unclaimed
  • Mail refused by addressee at time of delivery
  • Mail refused by addressee after delivery when permitted
  • Minimum criteria for mailability not met

Mail that is undeliverable as addressed is forwarded, returned to the sender, or treated as dead mail as authorized for the specific class of mail.

UAA mail returned to sender is marked by the USPS with the reason for nondelivery. You most often see this as the “yellow stickies” applied to your mailpiece when it is returned to you.

What do the notations on the “yellow stickies” mean?

The following are a few, but not all of the reasons you may see given on your returned mail:

  • Attempted – Not Known: Delivery was attempted, addressee not known at place of address
  • Box Closed – No Order: Post Office box closed for nonpayment of rent
  • Deceased: Used only when known that addressee is deceased and mail is not properly deliverable to another person. Important: This endorsement must be made personally by USPS delivery employee and under no circumstance may it be rubber-stamped. Mail addressed in care of another is marked to show which person is deceased.
  • Illegible: Address not readable
  • Insufficient Address: Mail without number, street, box number, route number or city and state omitted and correct address not known
  • Moved, Left No Address: Addressee moved and did not file a Change of Address order with USPS
  • Not Deliverable as Addressed – Unable to Forward: (Any of the following) Mail undeliverable at address given; no Change of Address order on file; forwarding order expired
  • Temporarily Away: Addressee temporarily away and period for holding mail expired
  • Vacant: House, apartment, office or building not occupied

I urge you to take the opportunity to review these notices and take action.

Update your mailing list! Remove any addresses that can not be corrected or improved and certainly any notices of deceased addressees. Take the time to research addresses in order to update them, or provide a list of these addresses to your appropriate vendor and ask them to process them through National Change of Address (NCOA) database. When you receive updated addresses back from the NCOA process, update your mailing list accordingly.

It can be time consuming, but remember – you won’t make a sale, receive payment for a bill or get valuable feedback from your addressees if they never receive your mailpiece.

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