Holiday happenings

Project Safe [Holiday] Delivery

By Michael Martel
U.S. Postal Inspector

A photo of a holiday gift and a maskman who looking with the USPS logo overlayed.

Follow these tips from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to keep the season bright.

The holidays are a wonderful time to reach out to friends and family by sending a card or gift, or to spread goodwill by donating to charity. Unfortunately, criminals are looking to capitalize on your holiday spirit, but there are a few easy tips you can take to keep them at bay.

Help postal inspectors protect your packages and mail by:

  • Using Informed Delivery, where you can manage upcoming deliveries, track parcels, and see a personalized Daily Digest that previews your incoming mail and packages.
  • Promptly picking up mail and packages. Try not to leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door for any length of time.
  • Not sending cash.
  • Arranging for prompt pickup. If you cannot be home to receive a package, make another arrangement or use USPS Hold Mail® service.
  • Using Hold for Pickup. When shipping packages, use the Hold for Pickup option, and the recipients can collect the package at their local Post OfficeTM location using USPS Package Intercept®.
  • Requesting signature confirmation. When mailing something important, consider requesting Signature ConfirmationTM for the intended recipient.
  • Ensuring your home security cameras capture activity at your front door and mailbox.

Avoid smishing/phishing scams by:

  • Knowing USPS doesn’t send text messages unless you signed up for them and entered the tracking number first. Messages from the Postal Service NEVER contain links, and there is no cost for this service.
  • Not responding to unsolicited text messages, emails or phone numbers you don't recognize.
  • Not sending personal or sensitive information over a text message or in an email.
  • Not clicking on any links or responding to suspicious messages.

When in the giving spirit this holiday season, ensure your donation gets where you want it to go. Bogus charities try to look and sound like real ones. To avoid charity fraud:

  • Always research the charity before giving.
  • Always make your check out to the charity, never to an individual. This is a red flag.
  • Don’t be pressured to give money on the spot.

Don’t send hazardous items/substances or nonmailable items.

  • Mercury and items containing mercury are always prohibited in the mail stream. This includes thermometers, barometers, blood pressure monitors and similar devices.
  • Some items, like lithium batteries, can be mailed when declared and with certain restrictions. Others, like fireworks or items containing poison, are nonmailable.
  • Ensure items you are mailing this holiday season are safe in the mailstream. The What is Mailable? list on can help.

More information on how to stay safe this season can be found on the Postal Inspection Service’s holiday scam page.

USPS and the Postal Inspection Service, its law enforcement arm, are doing their part to stymie the Scrooges.

In May, USPS announced an expanded Project Safe Delivery initiative to address an increase in letter carrier robberies and mail thefts across the nation.

Since then, clear progress has been made and will continue to be made through the holiday season and beyond.

Project Safe Delivery is a holistic approach to combating postal-related crimes. It seeks to:

  • Protect the mailstream and Postal Service employees by upgrading security measures.
    • More than 10,000 new, upgraded high-security blue collection boxes have been installed nationwide. Additionally, USPS and the Inspection Service have begun replacing antiquated arrow locks with 49,000 electronic locks nationwide.
  • Prevent these postal crimes from occurring through outreach and education efforts to customers, Postal Service employees and law enforcement partners.
  • Reduce counterfeit package postage and fraudulent change-of-address submissions.
    • USPS has developed a sophisticated system to identify, intercept and retain counterfeit or hijacked labels on packages, using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analysis.
    • USPS has strengthened authentication processes for all methods of change-of-address submissions, resulting in a 99.3 percent reduction in fraudulent submissions.
  • Enforce the laws that protect the mail. Postal inspectors are working with their law enforcement partners to take action against those who perpetrate postal-related crimes.
    • Since May, the Postal Inspection Service and their law enforcement partners have arrested more than 600 individuals for postal-related crimes, with 109 arrests made for robberies and more than 530 arrests for mail theft.

To help strengthen Project Safe Delivery, the Inspection Service has also significantly increased monetary rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of a perpetrator of postal crime.

More on Project Safe Delivery can be found in a national news release on