By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com
Mail tampering can come as a result of nosy neighbors, curious mail sorters or even possible stalkers. It’s commonly known that going through someone’s mail or delivery is illegal and highly frowned upon. It’s an invasion of privacy and can be deeply unsettling for the person affected.
Some people who live in apartment complexes are especially vulnerable to porch pirates, as they’re sometimes called, because their packages and mail are easily accessible. It can be a frustrating experience when you’re expecting a delivery, only to find a torn box with no contents inside.
Those looking to commit this crime have developed unique ways to get around the opening and resealing of envelopes or packages. Sometimes, their goal is to look through your mail and reseal it, so it seems as if it was not tampered with. While other criminal acts are more violent, mail fraud is not a victimless crime.
It can be challenging to know if your packages were tampered with before they arrived. However, there are ways to identify signs of tampering. Here are some things to look out for when receiving your deliveries at home or in the office.
1. Torn or Opened Envelopes
While some envelopes may come torn upon delivery, you must reach out to your local postmaster to get the issue squared away. It’s normal to receive a torn or opened envelope from time to time, but it shouldn’t occur more than a couple of times a month.
If any issues happen during sorting, the USPS will usually include the envelope in a plastic bag with a notice of what’s occurred.
2. Wrinkled Envelopes
It is normal for mail to get wet before being delivered, which would cause wrinkled envelopes. However, if most of your mail is wrinkled without any sign of rain outside, you’re justified in thinking it could’ve been tampered with.
One workaround would-be mail thieves can use is to hold an envelope over a pot of steaming water, which loosens the seal. After reading through letters or taking the contents out, it can be resealed, making it difficult to know that it was ever opened in the first place.
3. Resealed Envelopes
If you see a fringe around the sealed part of an envelope, you must contact your post office to discuss the issue. Resealing an envelope is not too hard nowadays, and people who are determined to read through your mail will try any method to open letters.
If Packages Look Tampered With
Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized tamper-evident packaging as a way to keep deliveries safe.
Whether it’s drugs, food items or clothing, the things in your deliveries must go untouched until they reach your doorstep. However, it’s important to note that not all companies will use tamper-evident packaging, which is why you must thoroughly inspect your mail.
Aside from just general mail or packages, there’s also evidence that supports the idea that food delivery drivers will sometimes steal from your order. One in four delivery drivers has admitted to tampering with food during their delivery route. As more people use online food delivery apps, restaurants and convenience stores should use tamper-evident packaging to ensure their products are being delivered safely.
Whether it’s food coming to your door or a package ordered from Amazon, these are some steps to follow if you believe that your deliveries were opened:
If you see anyone besides a postal worker near your mailbox, call the police immediately.
- Maintain any evidence of tampered envelopes or packages and bring them to your local post office — they will typically instruct you on the next steps.
- Alert your neighbors and landlord if you believe your mail has been tampered with.
- Visit your local police station and explain your situation to them.
- Consider adding a lockbox to your property to protect your mail and packages.
It’s wise to apply common sense to these types of situations. The goal is to receive deliveries free of tampering, but it can sometimes be out of your control who accesses your packages.
Protecting Your Deliveries
Ensure your deliveries are arriving tamper-free by applying some of the steps listed above. Your future self will thank you for taking the time to protect your packages, which should be one of your top priorities. While some cases of porch pirating are unavoidable, do your best to stay vigilant and always contact authorities when you believe a crime has been committed.
Devin Partida is an industrial tech writer and the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, a digital magazine for all things technology, big data, cryptocurrency, and more. To read more from Devin, please check out the site.