EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The United States Postal Service (USPS) and the United States Postal Inspection Service have announced their new crime and theft prevention initiative “Project Safe Delivery.”

The Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service held a joint meeting for Congress members and staff on Thursday, May 11. The initiative is being launched as threats and attacks on mail carriers and mail fraud incidents have “escalated concurrently with a national rise in crime,” according to the news release announcing the program.

“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,” said Louis DeJoy, postmaster general and chief executive officer.

USPS says in FY2022, 412 letter carriers were robbed on the job and so far in FY2023, 305 incidents have been reported.

USPS adds it’s seen an increase in high volume mail theft incidents of 38,500 from mail receptacles including blue collection boxes occurred in FY2022 and more than 25,000 in the first half of FY2023.

The following are the initiatives that will take place in the “Safe Project Delivery”:

Reduce letter carrier robberies and mail theft by:

  • Installing 12,000 high-security blue collection boxes nationwide. The Postal Service is making access to their contents more difficult for offenders to access.
  • 49,000 electronic locks are going to replace antiquated arrow locks.

USPS says offenders use arrow and modified arrow lock (MAL) keys to steal mail from secure mail receptacles to commit financial crimes.

Prevent change of address (COA) fraud by:

In FY2022, more than 33 million change of address transactions were made. The Postal Service adds the majority of change of address frauds are driven by identity theft motives.

  • In April, dual authentication identity verification services were implemented for online COA transactions to provide enhanced security controls to reduce fraud.
  • Starting on Wednesday, May 31, free enhanced in-person COA transactions will be available at post offices and retail outlets. Customers seeking to get a COA will be able to verify their identity by presenting an approved form of identification to a retail clerk.
  • Customers who request a COA will receive a validation letter at their old address and receive an activation letter at their new address.
  • The Postal Service will no longer accept third-party COA submissions.

Defeating counterfeit postage by:

In FY2022, the Postal Service seized over 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps. The Postal Service estimated a total loss of $7.8 million.

  • Exercise new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage.
  • Review shipments on Postal Service docks and during warehouse outreach visits​.
  • Shut down websites and close eCommerce accounts selling counterfeit postage. ​
  • Engage and partner with eCommerce companies to disrupt activity. ​
  • Collaborate with Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • The Inspection Service’s rewards program will provide 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. The program will also reward people who provide information about using, selling, or possessing with the intent to sell any used, forged, or counterfeit postage stamp or other postage.

The following are steps you can take to prevent mail theft and more:

  • Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox. You can 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.  

The Postal Service encourages the community to report stolen mail by submitting an online complaint to the Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov/report or by calling 877-876-2455.

The Postal Service also encourages the community to report allegations of Postal Service employee misconduct, including attempts to corrupt a Postal Service employee, to the USPS OIG at 1-888-877-7644 or www.uspsoig.gov.