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

    Hi, I have 5 packages that I mailed over the holiday season that have all gone missing. I had 1 that was found by the Postmaster in Michigan (she was extremely helpful) but I haven't heard anything back on any of the rest of these. With the exception of the one that was found all of the items were vinyl records or LPs. I am running a very small business and this is hurting my business in a very big way. I mail stuff via the USPS everyday almost and this really is disappointing. I would like to be contacted by somebody in regards to this please. thank you.

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed my car payment on New Year's eve Dec 31st 2017. As of January 16th the creditor has yet to receive the payment. What should I do at this point to find out if my payment was ever picked up and then delivered?

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    A birthday card was sent on 1/6/18 and it’s 1/16/18 and still no card.

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a media package from Houston to Philadelphia together with other packages. All other packages were delivered on time except this one. The tracking stuck on Dec 27th while it indicates it was at the Philadelphia distribution center. I went to the local office in person and they told me to wait and it will be delivered. I submitted different kind of online search request and none of them is helpful. Only Jan 6th I got an update saying it was a dead mail that could not be delivered or returned to sender and now being send to the Atlanta recovery center. There is no records showing why it was sent to the recovery center and they didn't tell me anything when I was there in person and I could actually pick it up. Missing mail search request was sent over half a month and still waiting for nothing. I got all the important textbook and notes and personal records in there. The sad thing is the Atlanta recovery center doesn't even have a number someone could reach or I can find a friend to pick it up for me. The why this system works suck, like they don't even care about your lost items at all.

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a Priority envelope on December 16, 2017 to Lumberton MS. It arrived in Mobile, AL and checked in and last stated in transit, still not made it as of 1/16/2018. Granddaughters Christmas.

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    How hard is it to find a year book with the name printed on the front..I got the wrapper back but no book Sadly the service has been terrible and has gone on so long I' afraid its gone. I kept this book safe for 25 years and you lost it in a few days. It's impossible to talk to any person. No wonder the PO is in so much trouble

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    Still waiting for them to leave some sort of number i can reach to claim my "dead mail". I'm not even sure why this package couldn't be delivered, the address was in big black sharpie letters as was the return address. It's even in the destination city!! How can you get it all the way from Florida to Aurora Colorado and then say "oh dead mail we cant find the address" If there was an issue shouldn't you have contacted me first from the beginning?!?

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    I sent Christmas cards to family, my daughter only received an empty envelope, my granddaughter did not get hers at all.

    Jan 12, 2018
  • anon

    Still waiting to hear back from my lost package case. Nothing but crickets. Seriously, how hard can it be to find a package when it is supposedly still at the sorting facility. It is a fairly large box with red paper with white snowflakes going to USAF Academy Colorado.

    Jan 12, 2018
  • anon

    I don't understand - if the tracking number can locate this package, why can't the USPS either deliver the package to the recipient or return it to sender? Since the service paid for was not received, do I get a refund?

    Jan 11, 2018
  • anon

    On 12/31/17, I took four envelopes containing checks to creditors at the Signal Hill Branch drive-thru mail boxes. It's 01/11/2018, and none of my creditors received them. I need an explanation from the U.S. Post Office why the mail was not delivered or if they are still in process to reach their destination. One was going to Ohio, one to Texas, one to Kentucky, and one to Chicago. If it's weather, fine, but if they are lost I'm concerned. Two of the envelopes had checks over $1,000. Please let me know what's going on with the mail delivery from the Signal Hill location.

    Jan 11, 2018
  • anon

    My name is Michael I have put in a change of address yet my mail hasn't came yet since November 2017 I'm still waiting for my mail I know that it was sent off I have talked to my workman's comp provider I still haven't gotten my workman's comp checks I called the post office they've given me the runaround no one can tell me anything please contact me at your early convenience thank you for your time

    Jan 11, 2018
  • anon

    Good Day Im trying to contact USPS with a message regarding my missing mail there is NO send Button I have several pieces of Important mail Lost Not by the Regular Carrier but by someone else or one of the Post Offices either the Main or Little Neck branch is Misplacing it BAck in February 2017 My DMV Motor Vehicles Car Registration was lost and other Important pieces of Financial Mail In July 2017 a Birthday card with a check was lost my sister had to stop payment Now in January 2018 My very Important First GM Car Financial Statement and Bill is Lost I was suppose to get it in early January Lastly Another DMV Car Registration is Missing that i was suppose to get Im going to have to take this matter to Higher Authorities if its not Resolved I think some other person is delivering my mail to another address the lsot mail i think is being delivered to 37-17 instead of 34-17 Thank you' george segalini

    Jan 10, 2018
  • anon

    I sent some mail good Springfield Tennessee Postal Service on New Year's Eve before 12 p.m. And actually it was a money order from Western Union to pay my rent and I sent it from the post office to my address because at the time I was in town with my family and children and I'm just wondering what's going on because it hasn't got here to my office and my rent is late now due to the post office not getting it up here it's a hundred and $22 money order from Kroger

    Jan 10, 2018
  • anon

    I have mail that has been missing since 12/8/17. I know this because i have informed delivery. I used the option of notifying them via the dashboard that the 3 pieces were not received. I contacted the local post office more than once and was told the pieces would eventually show up. Granted this was close to the Christmas rush; however I still have not received those. One was from Social Security and another from my reverse mortgage lender. Since these pieces were scanned at one of the main facilities, they obviously were in the hands of postal clerks at some point. I have not found anyone to take respsponsibility. I still have the email that depicts those pieces if you want me to attach them and send them to you at some point. Thank you for "listening", Judy

    Jan 09, 2018
  • anon

    Since October, 2017, I have had 4 pieces of important mail that was sent to me that I have not received. They included a card containing a check, two bills requiring payment and a bank statement (which frightens me the most). All were clearly addressed with the correct address. Three of the four are mailed to me every month and received. Where is my mail going?

    Jan 09, 2018
  • anon

    I have 2 packages (each contain 2 items) that were being forwarded to a new address on December 28th. The new address is one city over and I have not received it. How do I find out where the packages are? The tracking numbers are not providing updates.

    Jan 07, 2018
  • anon

    RECEIVED AN ENVELOPE MAILED THAT ORIGINALLY HELD A KEY TO A HONDA CRV,BUT THE KEY WAS MISSING AND THE ENVELOPE APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN CUT OPEN AND THE KEY WAS MISSING.

    Jan 07, 2018
  • anon

    I have a play station 4 pro I was sending my boyfriend and it was send to the dead mail can I get some help sending it to him

    Jan 06, 2018
  • anon

    I have an elderly friend named Frank (or Barbara) Hulihen and 2 days before Christmas they sent me a gift registeted mail (an Android tablet) from the Kingston pa post office. If they sent it to the correct address it should say 1609 Hawthorne st. Scranton pa 18504. I have not received it. Since they are both up in age they can't find any tracking number or receipt. They expect me to remedy this and they aren't giving me much to go on. Frank keeps messaging me asking me to talk to my mailman. Can you please tell me if there is a way to remedy this. Is this a normal wait time? Or can you tell me if you have a package with similar info in your lost packages. I'm not sure if Hulihen is one l or if it's hullihen. I think it maybe 2 l's. I have tried to ask but Frank uses a voice to text that makes it almost impossible to understand what he is saying. Can you please help?!? Thank you

    Jan 05, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed off a bill more than 2 weeks prior to it being due with the due date 1/3/2018. It still hasn't been received and now am charged a late fee which is more than half the full charge on the bill.

    Jan 05, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a package on Dec. 23 from Citrus Heights Ca sending to Joseph Stein, 291 Edgecombe Ave. Apt 2A New York New York 10031. The package has been to CarlisleNY, Albany, Springfield Ma,Albany, Carlisle, Springfield MA, Albany NY, ending in Northwest Rochester NY distribution center. In checking the address I wrote on the box I see that I had "Washington Heights" also on the address. Regardless of that, the package should have arrived at Edgecombe Ave by this time, Jan. 5, 2018

    Jan 05, 2018
  • anon

    My uncle sent me mail December 28th 2017 to Las Vegas Nevada and I still haven't received it how long would it take to get here???

    Jan 02, 2018
  • anon

    My uncle sent me mail December 28th 2017 to Las Vegas Nevada and I still haven't received it how long would it take to get here???

    Jan 02, 2018
  • anon

    i am looking for my mail that was sent to va for my yellow forwarding address sticker. its been over 10days.

    Jan 02, 2018
  • anon

    I haven't been receiving mail that for instance Christmas cards and other pieces of mail that come every month what do I do?

    Jan 02, 2018
  • anon

    We didn't receive mail on December 30, 2017. I did receive boxes from FedEx and UPS. If they could deliver packages. Why not the mail.

    Jan 01, 2018
  • anon

    I sent a manila envelope from NV with a dvd to great grand kids in Albuquerque NM 12/13/17. They have not received it. I talked to PO in NV & they said its in Albuq. PO. I call a 1800 # & I'm on hold for an hour only to have them hang up on me!

    Dec 31, 2017
  • anon

    My card from my mom. May not had enough postage how can I get it if it went dead letter office

    Dec 31, 2017
  • anon

    I sent my daughter in Auburndale,FL a Christmas card containing 3 gift cards. One Amazon for $50.00 , AutoZone for $50.00, & Oliver Garden for $25.00. She never received the card. I contacted the gift card suppliers as was only able to recover the loss from AutoZone. The card was sent out December 6th from Wayland, MI.

    Dec 30, 2017
  • anon

    How do I get my package back if It was sent to the recovery mail facility?

    Dec 29, 2017
  • anon

    How do i go about getting my mail that has been lost and found.

    Dec 28, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a card on Dec. 18 that had a check in it as a gift. The person it was sent to has not yet received it. I do wish I had not dropped it in the slot at the post office but had tracked it. The person did not have the gift for Christmas dinner and they are still waiting. So am I. Is mail slow in San Francisco area? Mailed from Stephentown, NY (near Albany) to Concord (in the SF area). Thanks.

    Dec 28, 2017
  • anon

    I went to the Post Office in the fall and had registered mail delivered to commercial address. Commercial address never picked up the mail. I have the particulars please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you

    Dec 28, 2017
  • anon

    I sent my friend a card and gift card to subway. Somewhere between Memphis, Michigan and Hillman, Michigan the contents came up missing, and for some reason the envelope still went to his address. Kind of embarrassing so please help find it or figure something out. Thanks again happy holidays!

    Dec 26, 2017
  • anon

    Good Afternoon I mailed 5 Christmas cards to my grandchildren in North Carolina on 12/19/17 from New Jersey and they still have not received them. I suspect that the holiday mail may be backed up, but did not expect it to take more then a week. Will they be delivered or returned to me? All the cards were sent regular mail, with my return address. How can I have these cards traced? I am sad that they did not get the cards from their grandparents. Thank you

    Dec 26, 2017
  • anon

    I am home when my mail is delivered, 95percent of the time. However in the past two weeks at least three checks have gone missing.

    Dec 26, 2017
  • anon

    If my box was tracked to the recovery center, is there a way for me to have them send it to me or to the original recipient?

    Dec 26, 2017
  • anon

    My package had my correct name and address on it, but not my unit number. I went to my local post office here in Arizona and told them that, and they took my phone number down and said when the truck came in they would take my package off the truck and hold it for me. I had no answer, so I went back to the post office and said that I never received a call, the clerk said it was on a truck going back to Hong Kong and that he was sorry. Nobody said anything about a Recovering system the USPS had or anything. I do my best to not use the USPS for anything as I don't trust their service and hope they get replaced.

    Dec 23, 2017
  • anon

    I have a tracking no for a very large box sent to Wilmington DE 19808. It was sent to the dead mail center. How can I get it expedited to the recipient. It's Christmas gifts.

    Dec 22, 2017
  • anon

    Hello, I have been missing mail for awhile now ( about two going on three weeks) and I have called and I have two current case numbers but I am wondering what is happening to my mail? is there anyway you can help me locate it? I have a check that was sent on 12/14/17 and I never received it and two of my other family members received theirs and it was mailed to the same address.

    Dec 20, 2017
  • anon

    We received package with no information who it came from! Just came from China!

    Dec 19, 2017
  • anon

    Local Post Office said that my package was sent to the MRC. Please contact me about my package. I was told you open the package and either destroy the item inside or hold it for 60-90 days. It is a very valuable item so please contact me ASAP.

    Dec 19, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a laptop via Ebay purchase to the buyer and he never received it. I files a claim on the item and i got a check for $62.48! its a laptop !!!!! what Laptop costs $62.48? I want the laptop back or the correct cost for the item. I am in the hole due to the USPS failure. The item was a Christmas present for the buyer.

    Dec 19, 2017
  • anon

    I sent 5 letters with regular stamps about 2 weeks ago , to Raleigh nc, they haven’t received them ... where are they now ???

    Dec 18, 2017
  • anon

    I have sent mail off three times this year and it hasn't reached its destination and I haven't received it back. Had my return address on each. Don't know what's going on. Had to drive sixty five miles to person house for them to get it. Not very happy with postal service.

    Dec 18, 2017
  • anon

    I have not received yet another package to my p.o. box. This would make the 12th or 13th package in over a course of 9 years at the same post office. Someone is stealing my mail, this way more than the normal occasional package missing . And they all seem to disappear between Austin Texas and Fentress tx. Is there an actual real person to speak with? The last time I checked, it's a Federal Offense to mess with people's mail.

    Dec 18, 2017
  • anon

    My greencard was delivered on a wrong mail address and it was sent back after 2 days of delivery pls how can I recover it back this incident happened since August ending pls help me out thanks

    Dec 17, 2017
  • anon

    Why on earth is anyone leaving comments? I don't see any replies. I'm waiting for my pension check which was mailed December 1st from Florida. I am in NY. When I had mailed something to them, it took 3 business days. I tracked it. Great way to ruin someone's Christmas when they already have too many problems. I don't believe I'll get a reply and probably none of the other unfortunate people. Truth be told, nobody cares. And no one is going to "look into" anything.

    Dec 14, 2017
  • anon

    I sent back a bunch of mail as return to sender and placed it in my mail box and now I'm not receiveing my regular mail or packages from USPS. I need to know why

    Dec 14, 2017

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