Protect Your Business from Package Bombs and Bomb Threats

The chance that you will receive a bomb through the mail is about 1 in a billion. Nonetheless, you should be aware of the proper guidelines to handle such incidents.

What motivates people to send package bombs? People often think of a mail bomber as a person motivated by radical political beliefs. This stereotype is incorrect. If you adhere to this stereotype, you may improperly assess and respond to a bomb threat.


Jilted spouses or lovers may seek revenge at the end of their romantic involvement. Former business partners or employees may seek revenge when a business relationship goes sour or when business reversals cause layoffs or firings. Law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary have been targeted for bombs and bomb threats by individuals seeking revenge for having been investigated or prosecuted.

Package bombs usually target specific individuals. Placed bombs, however, are generally intended to disrupt workplaces and injure indiscriminately. Bomb threats may target either individuals or organizations.

How vulnerable is your workplace to a bomb threat?

The chances of your workplace receiving a package bomb are extremely remote. The chances are greater of receiving a telephoned bomb threat or finding a suspicious and potentially harmful bomb placed at your workplace or on your property.

The vulnerability of you and your workplace depends on a variety of factors, both internal and external. No individual or company is completely immune from attack. The security officer and top management should meet to evaluate the probability of your company or its personnel becoming targets for package bombs and bomb threats.

Postal Inspectors recommend you consult with security experts about terrorist tactics and to receive a vulnerability assessment. The Postal Inspection Service can provide information about establishing a secure mail center and detecting package bombs. Contact a Postal Inspector near your workplace. In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provides information about bomb threats and physical security planning on its Web site at

Since most explosive devices are placed, not mailed, your security plan must include controls over individuals who can physically access and move about your workplace and its immediate surroundings. Having such controls can reduce your company’s risk.

You should ask the following questions during your assessment. The questions can be used to develop information that would help identify company officers or employees who could be targeted or organizations that may attempt a bombing:

  • Foreign terrorism. Does your company have foreign officers, suppliers, or outlets? If so, in what countries? Are you doing business in countries where there is political unrest and civil strife, or where terrorist organizations operate? Has your company refused to do business with, withdrawn from, or failed to successfully negotiate business contracts with companies, organizations, or governments within the last 2 years that are affiliated with current terrorists or that represent countries suffering domestic unrest? Does your company manufacture or produce weapons or military support items for the international arms trade that would normally bear markings identifying the organization as the manufacturer?
  • Domestic hate groups. Is your company a high-profile organization whose services, research, or products are the subjects of public controversy? (See Resources section for the Web site address of an organization that tracks hate groups.)
  • Workplace violence. Has your company experienced a recent downsizing, take-over, or reorganization requiring layoffs? Has any employee complained of being physically abused, harassed, or of being stalked? Has any employee made threats to harm any other employee or the company itself?

Note: Care must be given not to violate an individual employee’s privacy. All information should be treated as extremely sensitive. This information should be shared with the mail center security coordinator in the event that a suspicious package is received. The information should not be disseminated to other employees.

Enhance the Physical Security of Your Workplace


Establish a Package Bomb-Screening Program*


*You may order a copy of the Postal Inspection Service’s Poster 84, Suspicious Mail, by calling
800-332-0317 and selecting option 4. Enter your phone number, then select option 4 again, and wait for an operator to take your call.