DALLAS (KETK) — The United States Postal Service and United States Postal Inspection Service announced expansions to security measures protecting postal employees and the security of the nation’s mail and packages.

This expansion comes as threats and attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents have increased with a national rise in crime, a release stated.

The postal service and postal inspection service held a joint briefing for members of Congress and staff on Thursday.

“As crime rises, so do the threats against our public servants,” said Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy. “The men and women of the Postal Service are walking our nation’s streets every day to fulfill our mission of delivering mail and packages to the American people. Every Postal employee deserves to work in safety and to be free from targeting by criminals seeking to access the public’s mail.”

According to a release, letter carrier crimes are on the rise. In fiscal year 2022, 412 USPS letter carriers were robbed on the job, while 305 incidents were reported in the first half of fiscal year 2023.

The agency also reported an increase in high volume mail thefts from mail receptacles, including the blue collection boxes with 38,500 in fiscal year 2022 and more than 25,000 in the first half of fiscal year 2023.

“Recognizing these ongoing safety threats, the Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are expanding their Project Safe Delivery crime prevention initiative to protect Postal employees and facilities, prevent mail and package theft and enforce the law against individuals who perpetrate crimes against Postal employees or engage in mail and package theft,” the release said.

Expanded Project Safe Delivery actions include:

Reducing Letter Carrier Robberies and Mail Theft​ – As part of Project Safe Delivery,USPS and USPIS aretaking action to harden physical targets against criminal activity and reduce criminal acts against postal employees including:

12,000 High Security Blue Collection Boxes To Be Installed Nationwide The Postal Service is hardening blue collection boxes making access to their contents more difficult for criminals.These boxes are now being deployed in high security risk areas through the next fiscal year. The Postal Service will continue to evaluate replacing additional existing blue collection boxes with these enhanced boxes.

49,000 Electronic Locks to Replace Antiquated Arrow Locks – There has been an increase in letter carrier robberies nationwide where criminals are targeting letter carriers for their Arrow and Modified Arrow Lock (MAL) Keys. Criminals use Arrow and MAL keys to steal mail from secure mail receptacles to commit financial crimes, including altering checks to commit check fraud. To make Arrow Keys less valuable for criminals, the Postal Service will replace 49,000 antiquated arrow locks with electronic locks. New locks have been installed in select cities with installation to occur in additional major metropolitan areas soon. The Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are also increasing Arrow Key accountability reviews in select high Postal crime areas.

Preventing Change of Address Fraud  The Postal Service processed more than 33 million change of address (COA) transactions in fiscal year 2022. The majority of COA frauds are driven by an identity theft motive separate from the Postal Service. The Postal Service is not the intended target but implicated as the fraudster intercepts financially oriented mail, credit cards or checks. The Postal Service is embarking on strengthening authentication processes for all methods of COA – electronic, and hard copy format whether by mail or in-person. Actions include:

  • In April, the Postal Service implemented dual authentication Identity Verification Services for online change of addresses transactions to provide enhanced security controls to reduce fraud.
  • Effective May 31, the Postal Service will offer enhanced in-person change of address transactions at Post Offices and retail outlets. COA customers can verify their identity by presenting an approved form of identification to a retail clerk.
  • Postal Service customers seeking a COA will now receive a validation letter at their old address and receive an activation letter at their new address.
  • As an additional safeguard, the Postal Service will no longer accept third-party change of address submissions.

Defeating counterfeit postage​ – In fiscal year 2022, the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service seized more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps with an estimated $7.8 million loss avoidance for the Postal Service. Expanded actions to crack down on fraudulent postage include:

  • Postal Service interdictions ​of packages with counterfeit labels affixed​. The Postal Service will fully exercise new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage.
  • Reviews of shipments on Postal Service docks and during warehouse outreach visits​
  • Shut down of websites and closure of eCommerce accounts selling counterfeit postage​
  • Engagement and partnership with eCommerce companies to disrupt activity​
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collaboration ​
  • Promotion of the Inspection Service’s rewards program which provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person that unlawfully uses, reuses, or forges postage stamps, postage meter stamps, permit imprints, or other postage; or uses, sells, or possesses with the intent to sell any used, forged, or counterfeit postage stamp or other postage.

The public can take the following actions to prevent mail theft:

  • Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox every day. 
  • Deposit outgoing mail through a number of secure manners including inside your local Post Office or at your place of business or by handing it to a letter carrier.
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily digest emails that preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon.
  • Become involved and engaged in your neighborhood via neighborhood watches and local social media groups to spread awareness and share information.
  • Keep an eye out for your letter carrier. If you see something that looks suspicious, or you see someone following your carrier, call 911.