Background

The Mail Recovery Center (MRC) is the U.S. Postal Service’s official lost and found department. Processing centers and retail and delivery units nationwide send mail items with no valid addressee or sender information to the MRC. The MRC’s core mission is to search, recover, forward, or return undeliverable mail nationwide.

In fiscal year 2014, the MRC received 88 million items, processed 12 million for possible return to customers, and returned 2.5 million. All items not returned to customers were sold at auction, donated, or destroyed.

The objective of this audit was to assess the MRC’s effectiveness at handling customer inquiries and managing items it received.

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What the OIG Found

The MRC did not effectively handle customer inquiries or manage undeliverable items it received in certain circumstances. Specifically, the MRC did not:

¦ Track how many inquiries resulted in items returned to customers.

¦ Return, dispose of, or secure military items efficiently.

¦ Return wallets, purses, and the documents they contained to customers.

¦ Sufficiently oversee the contractor responsible for auctioning unclaimed items at the MRC.

In addition, Postal Service operations outside of the MRC’s control negatively impacted MRC efforts to return undeliverable items to customers. Specifically, sales and service associates did not provide customers with clear instructions for filing search inquiries and field offices incorrectly sent recyclable materials to the MRC.

These conditions occurred because the Postal Service either did not have adequate policies and procedures for these functions or did not follow them. As a result, there is an increased risk that customers may not have the opportunity to recover lost items.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended the Postal Service enhance policies and procedures for handling lost and undeliverable mail at the MRC, review the contract for auctioning unclaimed items, instruct sales and service associates to provide customers with proper procedures for filing a search inquiry, and enforce existing policy for recyclable materials that should not be sent to the MRC.

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Comments (679)

  • anon

    Thank you for your comments to our 2016 Mail Recovery Center Audit Report. Our work on this specific audit has ended and we have closed this page for comments. However, the Office of Inspector General is continuously conducting reviews of lost and delayed mail and we invite you to visit our home page to view our recent work. Please visit the “Contact Us” page on this website for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service. Thank you again, OIG Audit Team

    Feb 08, 2018
  • anon

    I ordered a package and the status of it states: "Dead Mail/Disposed by Post Office". The order is through "International Bridge" . Is this the correct place to contact?

    Feb 08, 2018
  • anon

    How do I go about retrieving mail for my elderly mother that was returned to USPS because she was not able to get it from her mailbox?

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    I shipped a package over a few weeks ago on1-17-18, I do not have a tracking number for the package and the person I sent it to hasn’t received it. Is there anything I can do to see where the package is without the tracking number?

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    My aunt passed in November 2017 life alert contacted me to send her devices back. There were 3 devices one a pendent, call box, button. Instead of me putting it out for UPS I found a RMA envelope inside life alert box to send back to them with the intrusions telling me to do so. I didn’t think at the time with being under distress. Life alert is threatening me to pay for devices if o don’t track them down ASAP! I mailed it from my address but did not put a return on envelope . It does have a life alert address and on the devices on inside they have stickers that should track them back to this company! Please help me locate and return this mail as it was mailed the first week of January 2018

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    I sent a package on Feb 2, 2018. The package was received empty. The contents was a book that is about 7 inches by 10 inches and about 1 inch thick. The title of the book is "Volvo 1800". How do I go about seeing if the book is at the Atlanta Recovery Center?

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    I had a package delivered empty. I am looking for a book that is about 10 inches by 7 inches and about 1 inch thick. The title of the book is "Volvo 1800" I mailed it on 2/2/2018. I believe the book may be at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta. Can you help?

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    How do I track a money order sent in the US mail?rs

    Feb 05, 2018
  • anon

    I don't know if this will work but I'm going to try please send me back a response. my customer here in colt, ark.72326 mail off a few letters at the same time on 1/30/2018 but they have not gotten to their destination yet. I told the customer there is no way I can track a plain letter without a tracking number and now she is going to call the congress and the senator so what do I do for her? please any suggestions.

    Feb 05, 2018
  • anon

    The Korean Embassy in Chicago forgot to put a shipping label on my package and my passport (along with my worker visa) was sent to this place. My flight leaves in a week. I'm screwed if I can't get this in time... I'd like to know where my passport is and how I can get a hold of someone. I would personally drive all the way to Atlanta from Minnesota if someone could just tell me where it is. Thank-you.

    Feb 03, 2018
  • anon

    We are missing an envelope mailed on January 24, 2018 from Houston, TX post office box. How can we track the envelope. thank you

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    I did not recieved any mail from 11/16/17 to1/16/18. Where is my m ail?

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service online. Just go to their website and choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    I moved from South Lake Tahoe Ca. Submitted change of address to my daughters house. It was at a temporary move. When I submitted a new one to my new address I. Checked (big mistake) the family box. Then my daughter’s mail who didn’t move with us started getting her mail forwarded to the new address. She did a new change of address for her and we stopped getting her mail but she is getting nothing.in her mail. I see some of her mail in my email Informed Delivery but I donor receive it and neither does she. This is my fault for checking the wron box. I have even put in new ones as individuals and got a letter saying they would not do it because of illegible signature. This is a huge mess. As I write this I am on hold for 1 1/2 hours to talk to representative. She needs her accumulated mail and this cleared up.She is not recei PLEASE HELP.

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    I sent two money order through the mail and one of them was received but the second one is still unaccounted for, what should I do ?

    Jan 30, 2018
  • anon

    I have not received mail in over 3 weeks. In addition, a family member mailed me a card 2 weeks before Christmas, and the card was recently returned to him. This is extremely frustrating. I believe someone is not doing their job.

    Jan 28, 2018
  • anon

    Hello I forgot to change my previous mailing address I am wondering where all my mail went and how can I change it.

    Jan 27, 2018
  • anon

    The Plainville Ct post office informed me that I can contact nyc post offices to report that a piece of my mail with check and $15 cash inside was stolen or ruined in a machine on or around 11/13/2017. The recipient-doctors office never received it. What do I do?

    Jan 27, 2018
  • anon

    I have not received any mail at my new address . I received the letter from post office stated my address change went threw that was 6 days ago . I did a change of address Jan 10

    Jan 26, 2018
  • anon

    December 18, 2017 I mailed 2 Christmas cards in Tucson, AZ, one to the east coast and one to the west coast, neither card arrived, both contained money. I do not expect the money to be recovered but I do expect that you would want to know that there is a problem and I can only assume it is in the Tucson area.

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a personalized envelope end of November 2017 from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and it still hasn’t been received. Please let me know why the envelope hasn’t been delivered. Thank you

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    I had piece of mail that left New Jersey 18th of January coming to Clinton South Carolina how much longer should it be before I get this letter thank you for your response Kim Osborn

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    Hi, I sent a box with valuable items to abroad. It was Christmas presents to my family. My family never recieved it, so I went to post office. The worker said that yesterday they send it to the storage and gave mea phone number. I called that number numeras times.. nobody never answered me.. it was 3 years ago.. please advise me if anyone know how to return this item. I believe it was stolen by workers of post office. Whole thing was strange. Inside the mail was professional camera, iPad, and a lot of souvenirs..

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    My Letter were is it

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I have a lost passport because the U.S. State Department sent it to the wrong address. Can you help me find the package?? Thank you.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a birthday card with a $25 gift card in it for my grandson's birthday. Card was mailed January 13, 2018 from the Monrovia, CA post office to Pembroke Pines, FL. as of 1/24/18 card has not arrived.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a birthday card with a $25 gift card in it for my grandson's birthday. Card was mailed January 13, 2018 from the Monrovia, CA post office to Pembroke Pines, FL. as of 1/24/18 card has not arrived.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I to sent a money deposit two weeks ago and it still has not reached its destination!

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with lost or damaged mail. You can file a claim with the Postal Service.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    How long does it takes a package that was shipped from MS on Jan. 16, 2018 to NV.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I shipped a box to my sister, in Waynesville, Ohio, for Christmas, along with a Christmas card. The card arrived with no problem. There has been no sign of the package. She likes at the end of a very long driveway, so theft is not an issue. I no longer have my receipt or routing number. Is there anything we can do? I know exactly what was in the box. Thank you for your time and attention, Kimberly Reagin.

    Jan 23, 2018
  • anon

    I have a subscription to Classic Boat magazine which is mailed to me monthly from the UK. In the past year % of my 12 issues have gone missing. I have called the UK and they advised me that they have been correctly sent from their end and that the problem must be in the USPS. They decided to send the latest issue in a brown manila envelope (so the person stealing my magazines wouldn't be able to see the contents) But yesterday I went to my P.O. box and received an empty manila envelope from the UK - the tape had been slit - contents removed - no magazine. How can this situation be resolved.

    Jan 23, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with lost or damaged mail. You can file a claim with the Postal Service.

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    I have not received mail in over ten days a letter was sent from Florida from my Mother that has taken more than 7 days. I have no clue why it is taking so long I have lived in Alaska and have gotten mail quicker from NY too AK. None of this makes any since

    Jan 23, 2018
  • anon

    My mail being sent from the U.K. has been stuck at “processed” through your facility since 9:54 am of January the 14th. When will my SITU scale come in?

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    A valuable package was mailed to me in Georgia from Brooklyn, NY and I have not received it. The tracking shows that it was mailed on Jan. 16, 2018 but that is the only activity that it shows. I realize that the mail should not take a week to get from Brooklyn, NY to Atlana, GA. I am very upset over the loss of this package.

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    I had a package that said it was confirmed sent to me address, but didn't actually come to my address. Does that mean it went to the Post Office

    Jan 21, 2018
  • anon

    I received an envelope that was supposed to contain a truck key and remote starter FOB. The envelope had been torn open and the key and FOB were missing. My local post office(48166) gave me a form to e-mail you, but your site does not support this (at least not that I am able to find). Please tell me how to have the the Postal System look for my items

    Jan 20, 2018
  • anon

    My mom sent me money in the mail saturday from Lawrence,mass. I live in Portsmouth,n.h. Almost a week and havent received anything. I'm crying and shaking because i needed help really bad i asked my mom to send me money. $60 gone. Taken by a horrible theft. Mailbox is under lock n key.

    Jan 19, 2018
  • anon

    Before xmas my friend in Arizona sent me a card with $100. I live in portsmouth,n.h. i never got the mail or the money. Its so sad.my mail box is locked with a key. How can this happen. So angry.

    Jan 19, 2018
  • anon

    I placed a small size box in the mailbox in Leonardo, NJ on 1/15/18. Monday was a holiday so we know nothing happened on that day but since then, I've been checking the tracking info and the pkg was never scanned in. I called the post office and they claim their scanner was down and they couldnt scan any pkgs on Tuesday. Either way while it's in its route it wud have scanned in at some point and it hasnt. I called Calif where the pkg was heading and they have NOT received it. Leonardo post office is the WORST. This pkg is now lost and all becuz this post office didnt do their job. I will never use that post office again. WE NEED THIS PKG DELIVERED TO THE BUYER AND SOMEONE BETTER FIND IT. The post master their didnt seem to care. HORRIBLE SERVICE. Someone needs to find that pkg ASAP!!!!

    Jan 19, 2018
  • anon

    I have a US postal P.O. Box that I've had for nearly a year. I'm having major issues with this for my mailing address. None of my official documents being sent by the government is coming to my po box. I even added my 3 childrens names to ensure I get my mail. This is the second time I applied for a renewal ss cards for my children and here it is over a month later and still don't have them. I'm starting to think there is fraud going on and someone working for the USPS is stealing mail. Now I'm on hold with customer service to file another claim. Funny all bills and tickets come but no official important mail from goverment agencies. I thought having a PO box will be easier and more secure being that I moved twice in the past 3 years. This is causing me hardship and major delays being that I'm not receving my important mail to correspond in a timely matter for my important business. Looks like I'm not getting the help I need.

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    I need to know where A piece of mail is. I put an envelope in a mailbox on Frankford Avenue in Louisville Kentucky on Sunday night. I know the mail did not run on Monday but it definitely should have been there by now. Especially since it’s in the same city. This is a very important piece of mail and I need to know something ASAP. Thank you

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    I need to know where A piece of mail is. I put an envelope in a mailbox on Frankford Avenue in Louisville Kentucky on Sunday night. I know the mail did not run on Monday but it definitely should have been there by now. Especially since it’s in the same city. This is a very important piece of mail and I need to know something ASAP. Thank you

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    Christmas card with gift card enclosed sent from Bahrain, nobody seems to know where it is. Granddaughters was sent at the same time and they received theirs, we all go through the same post office. Found out that I also had not received 2 other cards, this is why people use the internet, so tired of not getting my mail. Where is it going to, not believing it just vanished into thin air

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    Mailed two packages from MA to the same address in PA on 12/28/17, one by priority, one by media mail. The priority package arrived within days. The media mail had updates showing that it arrived at the Phila. distribution center, and then... nothing. Today (exactly 4 weeks later) , I get a tracking message that it is "dead mail" and being sent to the recovery center. My local post office was useless, and when I tried calling 800 number for USPS, was given a recorder message that wait time would be a minimum of an hour and 15 minutes. Feeling helpless and frustrated. This is no was to run a business.

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    I had mailed an envelope about one and a half weeks ago to 6510 Massachusetts Avenue Indianapolis Indiana and they still haven't received it. Please help. The item contained very important documents.

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    Yeah, this is definitely BS. I've lived in the same apartment community for 5 years. According to the leasing office, the mail carrier has decided to take it upon herself to decide what apartments are actually inhabited. They say she gave them a list of 30 units she claims no one lives in. THEY say, and they are leasing office so they should know right? that they have only 10 units currently not leased. She told them she is returning mail to all the units she believes no one lives! Which unfortunately, included MINE. I left her a note letting her know NOT to take my mail back and she returned my note saying my mail had been returned to the post office "because your box was full," which is total BS because I check my box every week!! This woman is a lunatic. I have a small package that was delivered that I need, my W2s and other tax information is in that mail, this is completely outrageous. Now I have to go to the post office on Saturday and stand in line for mail I should have gotten in the first place and hope they take my ID without argument! I tried calling but was told my hold time was "50 minutes." I waited 55 minutes (if you can believe that, that is how determined I am to get back my mail and complain) and no one ever took the call! I am annoyed beyond belief.

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    MY DAUGHTER MAILED A PRIORITY PACKAGE TO ME FOR CHRISTMAS ON DECEMBER 19,2017 FROM DALLAS TEXAS 75254 AND WAS SUPPOSE TO ARRIVE ON DECEMBER 22, 2017 IN ST. LOUIS MISSOURI...TO THIS DATE NO PACKAGE..IT IS VERY DISHEARTENING THAT WE AS THE PEOPLE PUT OUR TRUST IN THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE AND OUR MAIL BECOMES MISSING..IF EVERYONE WOULD BOYCOTT THE U.S.P.S. AND UTILIZE UPS MAYBE WE WOULD GET BETTER RESULTS..I FILED A MRC AND STILL NO RESULTS AND NO ONE TO TALK..I WILL BE FILING A POLICE REPORT AGAINST THE DALLAS TX POSTAL SERVICE AND MY UNCLE WHICH IS A DETECTIVE WILL BE FILING FEDERAL INVESTIGATION..THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AT ALL AND I WANT MY PACKAGE..POINT BLANK PERIOD..YOU CAN NEVER SPEAK WITH ANYONE AND THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS AND ALL NEED TO BE FIRED FROM THE HEAD DOWN. PLEASE MAKE THIS MAKE SENSE ON A PACKAGE GETS LOST AND YOU HAVE TRACKING INFORMATION..

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    Never received my sons letter in the mail that my friend sent my son and she mailed it out on 1/3/2017

    Jan 17, 2018

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