A new service from the United States Postal Service may help you ensure you’re getting all of your mail.  Informed Delivery is a free mail delivery notification service that allows you to receive photos of your mail before it arrives in your mailbox, so you know when to expect mail.

US Postal Service letter carrier Anthony Ow places letters in a mailbox as he walks his delivery route.
US Postal Service letter carrier Anthony Ow places letters in a mailbox as he walks his delivery route. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The USPS launched Informed Delivery in 2013 in the New York City metro, before expanding nationwide in 2016.  The service is free for all postal customers.  You can sign-up online or via a mobile app available for Android, Apple iOS and Microsoft.  The application process does include a rigorous verification system.  Some users will verify successfully during the registration process, while others may be required to go in to the post office to verify in person.

If you are required to do an in-person verification you will need to take your photo identification and some recent mail into the USPS retail counter.  At this time, Milton-Freewater Post Office does not do in-person verification.  In fact, our staff found that the postal employees in Milton-Freewater did not even have knowledge of the service that has been available for Milton-Freewater residents for two years.  The Walla Walla Post Office, was aware of Informed Delivery and are able to do in-person verification for any postal customer in the region.

Critics of the service have cited concerns over privacy, since the service provides images of their expected mail.  However, the NY Times reported back in 2013 that all mail sent via the USPS is photographed.  USPS officials say that the verification process required to access the mail delivery notification is rigid.  They say it’s similar to verification you encounter when requesting a copy of your credit report.  They say the service helps them identify when mail has been stolen or lost and makes them accountable to you.

“I signed my family up a few months ago when we had a package stolen from our porch,” Jules Brown, a resident of Milton-Freewater, told us.  “I was worried about my mail and this gives me peace of mind,” she added.  Brown said she enjoys getting the morning alerts that tell her what mail she has arriving.  She said that she had one instance where her cable bill never arrived, despite it appearing in her notifications.  “I used the app to report when I did not receive my Spectrum bill which had showed in my alerts. The next day the Spectrum bill was in my box with a note apologizing for it being misdelivered.”

Brown says she encourages others to sign-up for the free service, even if it means that you have to endure the in-person verification process.  She and her wife have the app on their smartphone where they get their alerts every morning.  Brown said they have helped sign up family and friends for the service and encourages others to do the same.


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