By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Postal Service said on Friday it is taking steps to crack down on rising mail theft, robberies of carriers, change-of-address fraud and counterfeit postage.
The postal service said it is installing 12,000 high-security blue collection boxes nationwide to make access more difficult for criminals and is evaluating replacing additional existing blue collection boxes.
USPS will also replace 49,000 antiquated arrow locks with electronic locks to address an increase in letter carrier robberies nationwide. Criminals are targeting letter carriers for their keys to steal mail from secure mail receptacles and commit financial fraud crimes. New locks have been installed in some cities with additional major metropolitan areas to follow.
USPS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said they were taking expanded actions “to protect postal employees and the security of the nation’s mail and packages as threats and attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents have escalated concurrently with a national rise in crime.”
Incidents of letter carrier robberies have been rising. In the 2022 budget year, 412 USPS letter carriers were robbed compared with 305 in the six months ending March 30.
USPS also said there have been more than 25,000 reported thefts from mail receptacles including blue collection boxes in the six months ending March 30 compared with 38,500 for all of 2022.
The Postal Service is also strengthening authentication processes for Change of Address requests. In April, USPS adopted dual authentication identity certification. USPS will no longer accept third-party change of address submissions.
Last year, more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps with an estimated $7.8 million loss were seized. Using new authority, USPS will now dispose of packages with counterfeit postage and is working to close websites and eCommerce accounts selling counterfeit postage.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)