In this article, you will find information directly from the USPS, providing some specific guidance and reiterating some basic points in handling mail. These precautionary measures can help ensure the safety of all Postal Service employees, partners and customers.


Identify and isolate possible suspicious mail, including any suspect mail piece returned to you by a customer at the counter, and follow established suspicious mail procedures.

Employees should always exercise caution when coming across a suspicious item, whether it be suspicious mail; unknown powders, liquids or substances; or in the case of emergency situations involving smoke, fumes or vapors.

Suspicious mail characteristics to pay special attention to:

  • Shape – Is it lopsided or uneven? Is it rigid or bulky?
  • Look – Are there oily stains, discolorations, or crystals on the wrapper? Does it have a strange odor?
  • Address
  • Is there a return address?
  • Are there restrictive markings?
  • Are there misspelled words?
  • Is it addressed to a title rather than to an individual?
  • Is it an incorrect title?
  • Is it poorly typed or written?
  • Packaging
  • Is it sealed with tape?
  • Is there excessive tape?
  • Is there excessive postage?

If you believe the suspicious item is not an immediate danger to life or safety:


Do not touch the package. Personally move to a safe area and call your local Post Office to report the incident


Call the Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455. When prompted, state “emergency” to speak with a Postal Inspector.

If you think the suspicious item is an immediate danger to life or safety (i.e. if you see smoke or hear sounds such as, hissing, etc.)


Do not touch the package. Personally move to a safe area and call 911


Follow instructions from first respondents.


Call your supervisor to report the incident.


Call the Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455. When prompted, state “emergency” to speak with a Postal Inspector.


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