USPS’s ‘Informed Delivery’ Service Will Email You Pictures of the Mail You’re Getting Today

BY Shaunacy Ferro, Mental Floss

In the world dominated by email, you may not always be excited to check your physical mailbox. But USPS’s Informed Delivery could change that. The service can tell you whether you want or need to check your mail that day, according to the Daily Dot, because it emails you images of every single piece of mail you’re scheduled to receive.

Once you opt into the service—which recently became available nationwide—USPS will send you an email each day before 9 a.m. with scanned images of every piece of mail you are due to receive. If you don’t receive the letter that you’re scheduled to get that day, you can immediately notify USPS by checking a box on the webpage. The service doesn’t show you images of anything bigger than a large envelope, so you can’t see your packages. However, it will give you status updates for them and allow you to leave delivery instructions.

If there’s a blizzard and you really don’t want to go outside for anything less than a paycheck or your long-awaited tax refund, you’ll know whether or not the slog to the mailbox is worth it. Informed Delivery is also a good way to make sure you’re actually getting the mail you’re scheduled to receive, potentially foiling mail thieves looking to steal your identity—or just mail carriers who lose your letters. The service lets you track mail for the whole week, showing you scans of the letters you received each day for the past seven days.

As of now, it seems like USPS still has a few kinks to work out. In some cases, the service not only shows the user mail for direct members of their household, but also possibly a neighbor’s mail, too, if the user is in an apartment building—meaning the service might not be as private as it should be. (This happened to me, although not to other Mental Floss staffers who use the service.)

According to an automated email from the USPS explaining this mishap, it could be because the “unit/complex is not coded down to a unique delivery point barcode, which is a requirement for this service.”

So for some apartment buildings, this may be an accidental spying tool. The images are only of the outside of the envelope where the address window is, so at least it’s not revealing much. It’s clear that the service isn’t perfect yet, but it’s still pretty useful in the meantime.