During the holiday season, the USPS is especially busy. In fact, December is typically the busiest month for the postal service, with an estimated 20 billion pieces of mail being delivered during that month.

Mitch Conrad/Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley
Mitch Conrad/Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley

To help ensure that your holiday mail arrives on time, there are a few things you can do.

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It might surprise you but the United States Postal Service is reminding people that during the holidays it might be best to avoid the stand-alone blue mailing collection boxes that you see throughout the Tri-Cities.

January 28, 2009 in San Lorenzo, California.
Justin Sullivan

A recent article from lifehacker.com explains that post office collection boxes have become a target for scammers and thieves.

The USPS service says that if you use the boxes, opt for the last collection time of the day.

Collection times are posted on the boxes; that way, you'll have a better chance of avoiding scammers and thieves if they've targeted the collection boxes in your town.


Mail fraud and theft are on the rise especially during the holidays so the USPS has a few tips on how to keep your mail safe:


Ten Ways to Protect Your Holiday Mail And Packages

1. Avoid sending cash by mail. Checks and money orders are safer than cash and may be canceled or reissued in the event of theft.

2. 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.

3. Consider an alternate shipping address. Customers can arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day or get packages delivered at work if permitted.

4. Change the package’s address — while it’s in transit! Customers who know they won’t be home when their package is delivered can try USPS Package Intercept. Prior to delivery, most domestic package shipments can be redirected back to the sender, to a new address or to the Post Office to be held for pickup.

5. Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and the customer won’t be home to receive it, the customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit usps.com, enter the tracking number, and select Delivery Instructions. Customers can also request their packages be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.

6. Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping packages, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipients can collect the packages at their local Post Office. Customers receiving packages can redirect incoming packages to their local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.

7. Going out of town? Hold mail at the local Post Office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the local Post Office until the customers return.

8. Secure the shipment using USPS Signature Services. Signature Services help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.

9. Choose the most secure form 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.

10. PO Boxes might be the answer. Customers concerned about the security of their mail can consider renting a Post Office Box at their local Post Office. The mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing customers to retrieve mail on their schedule.

As the holidays get here, just beware of scammers and thieves, and the easiest way to ensure that is by handing your packages directly to a mail carrier or dropping them off at your local post office.

You can read more details on keeping your mail safe here.

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