Undeliverable mailpieces are letters, flats or parcels that cannot be delivered as addressed nor returned to the sender. These mailpieces are either handled by the local Post Office™, or sent to the USPS® Mail Recovery Center (MRC). At the MRC, letters are scanned by machines to determine if they contain items of value (Checks, Credit Cards, Money Orders, etc.). Letters and parcels that are determined to contain items of value are opened in an attempt to identify an address where the piece can be forwarded or returned.
Undeliverable mail determined to be of value, meaning the content is worth more than $25.00 ($20.00 for mailpieces containing cash), will be held for 60 days if the mailpiece is barcoded, or 30 days for non barcoded mailpieces.
How Does the USPS® Dispose of Items of Value if the Owner Cannot Be Located
Occasionally, the MRC will auction off the items held. More information on upcoming auctions, including locations and directions, can be found at United States Postal Service auctions. Auctions usually start at 10:00 AM with the viewing of the available merchandise beginning at 8:30 AM. Merchandise is sold in lots, not by individual item, and catalogs may be purchased for a nominal fee on the day of the auction.
The MRC disposes of unclaimed merchandise and items not meeting retention guidelines in the following manner:
How Does the USPS® Mail Recovery Center Handle Undeliverable Checks?
Each check is scanned and copied into a letter of explanation to the customer. The original check is then shredded for security. Finally, automated equipment folds and inserts the letter into a window envelope for immediate dispatch to the customer. Benefits for the mailer include:
- Checks are now cleared the same day they are found.
- Customers are notified more quickly about the disposition of their mail.
- The process offers a safer alternative. The possibility of identity theft is decreased because banking information has been blocked or eliminated from the scanned copy.
- The customer has documentation showing the check was delayed, which may help with requests to waive late fees.