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New Postal Service Tool Can Help Fight Fraud

Get a peek at your snail mail before it arrives

Informed delivery from the USPS , New Postal Service Tool Can Help Fight Fraud


The new service called Informed Delivery could be coming to your email soon.

You no longer have to take anyone’s word that “the check is in the mail.” Now you can see for yourself.

A new service offered by the U.S. Postal Service sends digital images of incoming letters on days mail is delivered. The service, called Informed Delivery, is free.

As part of its sorting process, USPS takes a digital image of the front of letter-sized envelopes. These are the photos that it will now forward to customers via email. Informed Delivery can provide a heads-up on the arrival of tickets, lab results, important documents, IRS refunds or other checks.

Informed Delivery can also help prevent identity theft, says Doug Shadel, a fraud expert and state director for AARP Washington. Identity thieves sometimes acquire personal financial information by stealing selected pieces of mail, such as bank and credit card statements, and leaving the rest, he says. Chances are, you won’t notice a couple of missing items.

“But if everything that should get into your mailbox is listed electronically, and it doesn’t show up, then you’ll know,” Shadel says. “You can report it or be more on guard. It can be a great help.”

Images usually arrive before 9 a.m. the day the mail is processed and soon to be delivered. You’ll get images of the first 10 pieces of mail for that day and can view images of additional pieces online.

If you get a photo of a letter that doesn’t arrive in two or three days, contact your local post office, the agency advises.

Informed Delivery is available nationally, although not yet in some apartment buildings or areas where mail is still manually sorted.

To see if the service is available where you are, go to  To participate, you must be able to verify that you live at the address. And you will need a personal USPS account.