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HQ Facilities and Administrative Services Division

Mail Management

Safe Mail Handling

IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you encounter a suspicious letter or package, isolate the item and immediately call the Headquarters Security Office at 358-1616.

Headquarters Mail Center personnel are highly skilled and trained on using x-ray and magnetometer equipment to screen all incoming letters and packages. They know how to recognize the visual characteristics typically associated with suspicious letters and packages.

To ensure safe mail handling, the Mail Center staff visually examines and inspects each mail piece during each phase of three primary processing steps. Suspicious letters or packages are immediately isolated.

How to Identify a Suspicious Package

Significant characteristics for suspicious letters and packages are:
  • Excessive postage, no postage, or noncancelled postage.
  • Postmark location does not match return address (i.e., City, State, Country).
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil.
  • Lopsided or uneven in weight or appearance.
  • Rigid, irregular, or bulky in appearance.
  • Strange odor.
  • Oily stains, discoloration, or crystallization on wrapper or mailer.
  • Excessive tape or string.
  • Powders, stains, or residues.

Other characteristics to look for are:

  • No return address.
  • Mail from a foreign country.
  • Misspelled words.
  • Addressed to a title only, or an incorrect title (i.e., title, but no name).
  • Handwritten or poorly typed address. Distorted handwriting or cut and paste lettering.
  • Restrictive markings (i.e., "Fragile," "Handle with Care," "Rush," "Personal," or "Confidential").

If You Encounter A Suspicious Package

If you are suspicious of a mailing and are unable to verify the contents with the addressee or sender:

  • DO NOT OPEN the package.
  • Treat the package as suspect.
  • Isolate the package.
  • Call 358-1616 (HQ Security Office).
If you receive an OPENED package containing suspicious materials, it is important to remain calm. DO NOT PANIC. Please following these instructions:

  • Do not shake or empty the contents.
  • Do not smell or taste the contents.
  • Place the package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to prevent leakage.
  • Cover the package with anything available (i.e., trash can, clothing, paper). DO NOT remove the cover.
  • Isolate the package and close off the room by shutting all doors.
  • Leave the immediate area; keep others from entering the area.
  • DO NOT touch your eyes, nose, or any other part of your body.
  • Wash hands vigorously with soap and water.
  • Make a list of all people who had contact with the package.


If you receive a letter or package that contains a return address, but you are not expecting mail from that source, attempt to make contact with the sender to obtain and verify the following information:

  • Letter or package was indeed sent from that location.
  • Description of the package.
  • Exact contents of the package.
  • Description of the packing mateiral.
  • If you cannot verify the above information, treat the package as suspicious.

Internal Business Process Recommendations

  • Restrict the opening of mail to a limited number of trained personnel.
  • Designate an area of your workstation to review and open all incoming mail.
  • Set aside a specific time to review, open, and process incoming mail.
  • Use disposable protective gloves.
  • Separate the mail (i.e., pouch, permit, stamped). Examine carefully. Use a letter opener to open mail.
  • Wash hands.
  • Do not perform other tasks while opening the mail.
  • Do not eat or drink while opening the mail.




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