With the holidays approaching next week, only a few days remain to get packages in the mail in order to arrive by Christmas Day.
Deadlines for packages shipped in the U.S. through the U.S. Postal Service are Dec. 20 for first class and priority mail service; the deadline is Dec. 22 if using the priority mail express service.
Those deadlines are also applicable for holiday cards and letters, according to the USPS.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement arm of the USPS, is working around the clock to keep the more than 15 billion mail pieces expected to be mailed this holiday season safe. But, officials say, package senders and recipients can help.
The Inspection Service advises everyone shipping gifts this season needs to be aware and alert, and they are offering these five tips to help:
Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Just as wallets and purses shouldn’t be left on the front seat of an unlocked car overnight, mail and packages shouldn’t be left uncollected in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.
Going out of town? Hold mail at the local Post Office. If you’re planning on being away from home for a few days, instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, take advantage of the USPS Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the local Post Office until you return.
Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping packages, you can choose the Hold for Pickup option, and the recipients can collect the packages at their local Post Office. If you’re receiving packages, you can redirect incoming packages to your local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.
Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in your mailbox and you won’t be home to receive it, you can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit www.usps.com, enter the tracking number and select Delivery Instructions.
Secure the shipment using USPS Special Services. Signature Confirmation helps ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery. For the most valuable packages, customers can opt for Registered Mail service. Registered Mail receives special handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.
Additionally, if you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind a USPS truck or unknown persons loitering around mailboxes, report the activity to your local police department immediately, and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. If you feel that you are a victim of a crime involving the mail, you may submit an online complaint, by visiting www.USPS.com, and selecting the Postal Inspectors link at the bottom of the page.
Pam Cloud, Managing News Director
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