January 23, 2018
If you’ve ever casually stuck an envelope or flier into a home mailbox, you might be surprised to learn it’s illegal to do so if you haven’t attached any postage to the item.
“Though many may be unaware, it is important to know that this type of activity is illegal by federal law,” the U.S. Postal Service stated in a press release. Putting advertising in mailboxes “may seem to be an easy way to advertise, but only U.S. Mail delivered by authorized personnel may be placed in mailboxes.”
“USPS takes misuse of mail receptacles very seriously. If customers find something other than mail – no postage attached – in their mailbox … they should report it to their local Post Office,” said Liz Davis, spokeswoman for the Phoenix division of the U.S. Postal Investigation Service.
“Typically, the Post Office will issue a letter to the offender, educating them on the use of mail receptacles and request them to stop such actions or face being fined. In most cases, this does stop the behavior, as many are not educated in the matter.”
The U.S. Postal Investigation Service is the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service.
Davis said that if education doesn’t work, and misuse of the mail receptacles continues, her agency can contact the U.S. Secret Service for prosecution.
“It is considered a petty offense (for) which, if convicted, the offender would face a fine. The maximum fine for a petty offense infraction by an individual is up to $5,000. The maximum fine for an organization is up to $10,000,” Davis said.
In the news release, the U.S. Postal Service said that it “recognizes customers may place non-mail items into mailboxes as a convenient way of ‘dropping something off,’ but those items may cause a smaller mailbox to become full. When a mailbox is full, Postal Service regulations say the letter carrier cannot place mail in the box.”
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