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.

[Paragraph redacted]

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

    I am the Administrative Assistant to the Fire Chief at Andover Fire-Rescue in Andover, KS. We had a package that we mailed out by Certified mail and apparently the address that was given to us was invalid. After we had already submitted the package for shipment, the Company has sent us a NEW address to send the package to. However, since all of this, the package did not have a valid address and we had inadvertently forgot to submit a return address and they have claimed to have "disposed" of the package. Is there a way for us to retrieve this package by the tracking number it was sent under and get in contact with the Dead Mail Office and have the package reinstated to the new address? We will lose monies if the delivery is not successful/completed. Please contact me on what we can do. I have the NEW address to send the package to if in fact it can be salvaged. Thank you - Felicia Massey

    Dec 05, 2016
  • anon

    On October 19, 2016 my friend sent me a duffle bag not in a box. He mailed it from Oxford,MS to Storrs, CT. I have the mail recovery center request. I am unable to email it as an email attachment to MRC search in Outlook. Pleas advise me. Thank You, Miles Henderson

    Dec 05, 2016
  • anon

    I mailed a letter with money order over 2 weeks ago. It is possible that the delivery address was wrong, but my information was correct. Why is it that my mail was not returned to me? How do I go about finding out if I have mail at a recovery center. My zip code is 90301 and the intended zip code is 90403.

    Dec 02, 2016
  • anon

    I here recently "sold" my galaxy S7 and it turned out to be a scam and before I realized it was a scam I mailed out my phone. It was suppose to go to Nigeria and it only says onthe TRACKING that it had departed from Saint Paul, MN. I am trying to get my phone back because that phone is not cheap.

    Dec 02, 2016
  • anon

    Hello! I ordered something on the app Mercari and they shipped it off to a wrong address. I text the sender if she made a mistake but she said she didn't and checked it for me. So I assume it's USPS problem now, I'm trying to do everything I can to have the package come my way but nothing's working. Now the package is forwarded to somewhere else and I don't know where. This is getting frustrating for me because no one's wants to cooperate. Please help!

    Dec 01, 2016
  • anon

    I have had it! The post office loses my mail to members of the Marine Corps serving in Iraq regularly. No one acknowledges or pays attention to my inquiries. My current problem is time sensitive, and no one will help me. I have an annual homemade Christmas candy project I do voluntarily each year. I do this for deployed Marines and those who are stateside. This year I decided to do enough for an entire platoon in Iraq, so all together will be doing about 200. I carefully made the candy, bagged and packed it, using two large priority boxes. Both packages were addressed to the same SSgt so that he could distribute them to the members of his platoon. These were mailed together. One seemed to leave and go as it should, the other shows nothing other than initial acceptance at my local post office. I have already been back there, that post office is not the problem. I mailed these packages in Garner, the missing one never even showed up in Raleigh. Candy for half a platoon won't work. There is no way my SSgt can distribute candy for half of his platoon and ignore the other half. No one will talk to me, or even attempt to help me. Truly I cannot believe the complete lack of assistance, and I don't care attitude I have encountered. The incompetence is staggering. I realize this will probably also be ignored. But it is my last hope that someone might read this and actually care. Christine Jones

    Dec 01, 2016
  • anon

    I had a package ship from Arizona to here in GA. Was shipped at the 5th of November, on November 12th it was scanned in Memphis. Than last week it was sent to dead mail center. Other party filled out the missing mail form the day it was said it was in dead mail. Have not seen any movement anywhere. We've contacted (602)683-4276 and have been helped there. But she said there is no contacting the Dead Mail center. Here it is December 1st and still no word. I live about an hour away from this legal way to steal stuff center, wonder if i can show up and get my package

    Dec 01, 2016
  • anon

    I sold a CISCO Ethernet Switch on Ebay. It shipped from the Grand Prairie, Post Office on Oct. 25, 2016. It was to arrive in Miami, Florida by Oct. 31st. However, it has been lost in transit since Oct. 28th, 2016. It arrived at the USPS origin facility (i.e. Dallas, 75398) on Oct. 26th. It has been in perpetual transit ever since. I received a case number on the 14th day, but had to continually call in as no one called me back regarding the missing package. The case was escalated to Consumer Affairs in Miami, Florida. However, today I was told that they did not receive the switch. Also, I wasn't told to file a missing mail request until today after speaking with Consumer Affairs. Ebay was going to close the case as of Dec. 8th regardless of what happened. Today, the buyer was refunded the money. I have no idea if the CISCO switch will be returned to me. I suspect that it will not. However, I will be pleasantly surprised if it is returned. This is a rather large package weighing 15 pounds w/dimensions (e.g,, 20 x 14 x 10). Also, a Paypal representative informed me that this happens frequently and advised me to purchase insurance.

    Nov 28, 2016
  • anon

    I sold an IPhone 5 on Ebay and a bidder from India won the Auction. I packaged the phone and took it to the Cumming GA Postal Office and shipped it back in March. I informed the USPS upon shipping I needed to track the package etc. All that I was given was a customs tracking number. I did not know this at the time as I told the USPS I wanted to track the package until delivered given the nature of the contents. Needless to say the phone supposedly never reached India. It actually according to the USPS never made it out of Miami. It shows arriving in Miami in Late March - Early April. That is the last status. Every time I call the USPS I'm given a different story, promised that research and follow up with take place and in all cases that has not happened. I spoke to the same individual in the Cumming Ga post office and he was going to contact customs as he indicated that given the package shows arriving in Miami that also meant that it had made it to customs. 3 different times he took down the customs tracking number and my phone number and said he was going to follow up and it never happened once. Months has elapsed now and my Iphone5 valued at $445 is still undelivered in the USPS system and only shows arriving in Miami. I recently spoke to another USPS employee that firmly said that the arrival in Miami last status only indicates it had arrived in the Miami usps system and that there should be another status beyond that one to indicate it was in Customs. This is insane that now we are almost in December and I still have not been able to get a clear answer or explanation as to what happened to my Iphone. I had to refund the money to the buyer and lost the phone as well.

    Nov 28, 2016
  • anon

    This happened to me also shipping an iphone overseas... last tracking was seen in SF and never again. Had to refund the buyer and lost my phone.

    Nov 30, 2016
  • anon

    My old job in Detroit MI mailed my last check out on 11/18/16. Verified the address with HR. Still havent recieved it. It was only coming to WNY outside of buffalo. Right across the water. Why is it so difficult to get mail nowadays. Was supposed to stRt my new job in Philadelphia next week and cant because that check was to be used for travel and living. This is ridiculous

    Nov 26, 2016
  • anon

    We sent some personal items to family overseas, clothes, candy and vitamins. All were listed on the customs form. Postage was about $90. The overseas PO examined the contents and deemed them to be deliverable since they claimed that the vitamins could be illicit drugs. The overseas PO said they would return them to us, the sender. Will USPS refund our $90 since what we paid them to do, deliver them to our family, was not done? Doesn't their acceptance of our money constitute a contract of which USPS's end was not kept?

    Nov 25, 2016
  • anon

    On Wednesday November 16 /2016 I went to the post office in 73 street between 2 and 3 Ave in manhattan I did a line for more than 30 minutes finally I was call from a wendow I show the teller 50 birthday cards each one with a stamp but I ask her to check if the amount was correct because some of the birthday cards were different sizes and different weigh the lady was not happy and just weight some of the letters I tell her that all the cards was going to the same person and that it was my friend 50 birthday I just pay $2.94 dollars because it was just 3 cards Thad did not have enough amount My friend Birsday was November 20 today is Tuesday November 22 and he just got 10 cards I'm so sad and disappoint because a letter from NYC to Nevada just take 3 days I thinnk all the others 40 letters are lost because did not have the correct amount and is no fear cos I did what I suppose to do but the workers in the post office they do not care not all but some of them do not do the jab correctly Is money time and all lost

    Nov 22, 2016
  • anon

    Necklace missing out of package on arrival with side of envelop cut open......braided necklace blue and brown...magnetic closure...have picture but not sure how to attach......

    Nov 21, 2016
  • anon

    I believe a package may have been dropped at the post office in Battle Ground, WA without a shipping label. They told me it would have gone to the East Coast Dead letter Office. I don't know if there is any way to find this item, but here is the info on it:Priority Mail Game Box - Flat Rate. Hand written "Rattle ok' on outside. Inside is a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar intended for my Grandkids overseas. Sent mid-September. Is there any way to see if this item is there? Thank you, Pam Thornton

    Nov 21, 2016
  • anon

    Hopefully this postboffice can help me.....lost some mail in June of 2016...im from north carolina the mail was goin to Joliet Illinois....what do I need to do ???? Please help me....

    Nov 18, 2016
  • anon

    I submitted a form for full recovery and have not been responded to. I am out a significant amount that Replacements.com would value and now I need to accept the insurance value of $250.00. Unfortunately that is not something that I can count on as well. Please respond

    Nov 18, 2016
  • anon

    RE: Pkg from CN sent to recovery center. I have a tracking number which indicates that the pkg went to the recovery center, so obviously there is some trace of this pkg. I checked that I wanted to be updated on the status of the pkg. The shipper has also contacted the postal service and sent requested photos of the items shipped. My question is what efforts are being made to find my items? I have not heard anything and neither has the shipper. What incentive does the USPS have to send me my items? Because if they don't send them to me, they'll be auctioned off! These items were to be Christmas presents for my kids. I am on a very low fixed income and cannot afford to keep replacing items the postal service loses. The shipper confirmed the address he had on the pkg. It was correct. I have lived in the same house for 20 years and have never had this happen before! I really would like to know that the postal service is doing EVERYTHING they can to find and resend my pkg. THANKS!

    Nov 17, 2016
  • anon

    Has anybody else had their package tracking show delivered from ebay's tracking, but the usps sites tracking shows my package delivered at 1:31pm, then after that "undeliverable as addressed"...it's like it disappeared into thin air after that....this has never happened before. My tracking also reflected arriving at 3 post offices in Atlanta, but no departure time. It also says "arrival at unit" (been post offices) on one tracking stops...but not the ebay tracking... whatever that means...the seller and myself are both suspecting somebody on the usps side side of this...it just disappeared. Not returned to sender....nothing. bummer.

    Nov 17, 2016
  • anon

    I have been trying to find my package for 30 days now, and I have has no response from the USPS on their mistake they denied my claim for my insured priority mail item.

    Nov 16, 2016
  • anon

    On two occasions now I have not received cards sent to me here in Carrollton. GA., from Walker, LA. Both cards contained money orders to me from a friend. I checked with my post office and they don't have it there. They suggested I contact the unclaimed office in the event something may have been undeliverable. I don't want to publicize my address here, so if you can respond to me via email I will give you the address it was sent to and the address it was mailed from. I really needed those money orders, and it was sad not to have them delivered. I have a locked mailbox, as I live in a senior community. My box number was clearly written on the envelope. Please contact me for complete address. Thank you, Cloyee Smith,. Carrollton GA.

    Nov 15, 2016
  • anon

    Looking for missing small package mailed from Croydon, UK in early August, 2016 to me: Horseshoe Lane, Woodbury, MN, 55125. Many other times I have received such packages, usually in 1 to 2 weeks - this one has taken over 3 months.

    Nov 14, 2016
  • anon

    I want to make a report of a package that did not arrive on Monday, November 7, and that says this in the online recovery center but the page tells me it is not available. Whom I can call or with whom I communicate to retrieve it.

    Nov 14, 2016
  • anon

    Mail was delivery on old conley rd 0n November12,2016 what happen to the mail. Do see mail person at all today.

    Nov 12, 2016
  • anon

    Birthday cards from several sisters not received. Who is stealing my mail?

    Nov 11, 2016
  • anon

    Summed up, here is a letter I wrote to MRC in Iowa: Dear USPS Recovery Center Manager, October 30, 2016 Thank you for the effort you have provided in attempting to ÔÇ£findÔÇØ this package. Although I am somewhat appreciative of the effort , I am not at all convinced that my package with all its contents was NOT found. I believe the whole of the circumstances to be very odd. Odd for several reasons: 1. The front label of this box was so precisely cut out and mailed to me, yet the ÔÇ£wholeÔÇØ of the box (a fairly large one) couldn't be found. Where is the rest of the box that it was cut from? How can you possibly cut-away from a box and not have the box with its contents? 2. The ÔÇ£boxÔÇØ obviously was found because you cut the address label off and mailed it to me. Where is the rest of the box and its contents? 3. The box was a fairly large box with many, many, many items. How can a box just ÔÇ£fall apartÔÇØ with so many items and the items NOT placed in another box or container? Did clean-up crew just sweep the floor that night and sweep contents out the door? 4. This box contained school clothes for teen-age boys (jeans and shirts), movie DVD's, music CD's, shoes, and etc. You will never convince me that NOT even one item was recovered. Out of 30-40 different items, could you not find even one? 5. How do you handle packages that ÔÇ£fall apartÔÇØ? Do you have boxes, totes, containers, or clear plastic bags to place contents in? Seriously, what happens to all those things that just fall out from a package and supposedly never found in such a search? I could believe a search of one or two items not being successful, but I can not fathom a search of so many, many items yielded nothing. Really? My retired mom, because of some very hard and difficult personal times I was going through, took guardianship of my two teenage boys. She manages to provide and care for them on a mediocre monthly income. I could finally buy some very needed items for my boys and to save mom the expense. I find this whole situation of not being able to recover said items to be very, very disturbing. Could you please ÔÇ£lookÔÇØ some more?

    Nov 03, 2016
  • anon

    I bought a couple of clothing items from a company, and last week in said that it was at a facility where I live which is Decatur, Ga. today I look on their website, and it said that my packages are dead mail. I just lost over $100 because you all lost my package. Something needs to be done about this problem I never had a problem getting my mail from this company before. Either you all not doing your job properly or you all are just lazy.

    Nov 01, 2016
  • anon

    i ordered an iphone online but it end up getting lost now it says Dead Mail / Sent to Mail Recovery Center and it was sent there around october 12-15 sometimes and it's now october 30?

    Oct 30, 2016
  • anon

    Mailed 2 cards from the mailbox in my condo lobby. I live in MA and the cards were going to Brooklyn NY,,,,,,,,,,,,,,two weeks later they have not arrived. They had stamps, return addresses, and correct Brooklyn address, so where are they?? Is there a way to trace these two pcs amongst the many out there?

    Oct 26, 2016
  • anon

    I'm wondering if you got my e-mail. If you could let me know something. Think you

    Oct 26, 2016
  • anon

    Dear Sir or Madam: Please send me an email address contact for MRC. I live in CA & mailed a package to Florida. I have confirmation that USPS lost the contents of the package. I have a receipt for the items & the manager at my neighborhood post office is submitting the information to MRC. However, I also have photos of the items (new books). I want to send MRC the photos to help them locate the items. Thank you.

    Oct 24, 2016
  • anon

    I have an issue with you the i paid the money to this sender to help me to ship it and now he is telling me the package will not be deliver to me and i don't want to loose my money and i told him to send me my money back and he told he will never do that, i pay him 1,700$ with the shipping fee so pls bare me out the sender he was a scammer so i want you to delivery my package to me Thanks Terry

    Oct 20, 2016
  • anon

    I sent a letter bearing my heart to a guy I was almost with a few times and I have NO idea if it's been delivered or received or read and waiting is a brutal game.

    Oct 20, 2016
  • anon

    I filled out a form for my package to be looked for about a week and half ago and still haven't heard anything back. Its been. Month and half since you lost my package in Des Moines it was a vr45 turbocharger cartridge. It could to drs moines and was marked as damaged and then send to mail recovery. My local post office wont help me and i want my pakage or my money back. The only thing i got was a very genric letter about 4 weeks ago saying my package was send to the mail recovery center.

    Oct 13, 2016
  • anon

    i just got a letter in mail saying my important package i was selling is missing im very angry i want my package very expensive i need money or my package back thats it thats all

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    Package was stolen during delivery was given the runaround while trying to track my package was to arrive in Austin TX in 3days when the package arrived it was never delivered only to sent out again back to the post office in my area with the package on and the item removed I was told if the package was I would be receiving a refund Ithat didn't happen plus I took insurance out on the packageroad make a claim has not been easy

    Oct 11, 2016
  • anon

    The USPS polices itself....what a great idea! Lose an important package, and you are immediately put into an automated system that times out at 8 weeks. No one actually has to look for your package. And, if your contents left your box (read, removed from box), you have to hope and pray it was an accident, and your contents, which are clearly marked with your address, are returned. What a joke. 3% of the mail that is "lost" is actually returned. That means 97% of the mail that is lost is never returned, and if it has worth, is sold to benefit the very people who lost it in the first place! I will NEVER AGAIN mail anything important or of value via the USPS. Talk about Governmental mismanagement.......If UPS or FedEx lost that many packages, they would be out of business.

    Oct 10, 2016
  • anon

    Hello, I received a package that was extremely damaged with hundreds of dollars of my property missing from it. I have tried every outlet to resolve this, from filing claims twice, reporting to my post office, and being on hold on the phone for hours. No one will compensate me, and I did buy the insurance. I just keep getting the runaround. The insurance claims people keep sending me back to my local post office, and the post office keeps sending me back to the claims department. At this point I just want my shipping cost refunded. I would also like to contact the Recovery Center in Atlanta to see if my items are there, but can't seem to find a way to contact them. Please help. This has been an ongoing process for almost two months now, and I'm exhausted. Lost over $500 worth of property, and had my awards and heirlooms from my recently deceased grandmother smashed and shattered. It's just not right!!!

    Oct 08, 2016
  • anon

    I too am having an issue here in Atlanta! At this point, someone stole my package and the post office is trying to act like they never received it. Umm I tracked it to you!!! So yea, needless to say, we're in the same boat! Atlanta is the WORST!!! All I keep getting is the runaround as well.

    Oct 16, 2016
  • anon

    I have gift for kids coming from my parents from Ukraine. International priority mail....it cleared costums on September 26th and since then there no where to find my package. Usually it takes up to 3 days to show up at my door.tracking number is CP637021036UA.please help

    Oct 08, 2016
  • anon

    I tried to look about my missing package on the mpsa site with the ticket # I was assigned. I entered the ticket number like I was given, and my last name, but it kept saying wrong inquiry number. I tried several times and it kept saying that. I just want to know what the USPS did with my package after I dropped it off. That's all! But I keep running into walls and no help. Please see what the problem is. Also why is the mpsa handling this. I didn't send this overseas, I tried to send it to California so I don't get that either. Again I need more clarity to where is my package. Thank you.

    Oct 07, 2016
  • anon

    Why oh why does the USPS describe/explain operations like they are speaking with a fellow USPS clerk with 25 years. "We use the BLAH BLAH BLAH system, in our BLAH BLAH BLAH facility, and we only track BLAH BLAH BLAH packages" You never use simple English that anyone could understand. You may ask why I may be a expert in this....My father worked for the USPS 35 years (I even worked there 2 years), when I was a kid I shied away from asking my father, or any of his USPS friends questions because they spoke in acronyms and terminology that was hard to understand (never simple English). When I read info on your web pages I would appreciate something like " We track first class mail and above with tracking number" All of the "mumbo jumbo" may work when communicating with another USPS worker, but not to the general public/patrons. I have tried to call the USPS help line, and the people who man the phones speak just like the people who compose the web pages....very confusing....very frustrating. I always leave the web pages feeling like I accomplished/learned nothing, with a sour opinion of the USPS. Thank you for your time.

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    How can I get my package send with out giving shipper a tracking to give me as an receiver?its been almost one month no send my package was s be and it hasn't been delivered to me.

    Oct 03, 2016
  • anon

    Tracking package #IZ66V333YW62786761 SAYS IT WAS RETURNED TO ... POSTAL RECOVERY SITE on Sat 9/17/2016@8:49am Please advise what to do NOW!!

    Oct 03, 2016
  • anon

    Postal service of Gwinn MI. postal carrier decided not to deliver my mail for a week. Even though I've been living at the same address and had been recieving my mail for 6 months. I depend on the mail to deliver my checks and bills. I have 5 kids. Yes, I put in an address change when I first moved in. Gave all contacts new address. Postal Carrier then puts notice on my mail that it is not deliverable as addressed. Lost my check of over $200.00 that was supposed to pay the bills. Which she forwarded as well. Called the Gwinn branch P.O. and they told me that my name was not on that address that they have been delivering mail to for 6 months. Left various notes in my mailbox that the previous tenents left. Talked face to face with the carrier. What gives? Where is my mail?

    Oct 03, 2016
  • anon

    I sent a birthday card with a check enclosed to my son on September 3rd 2016 & as of today Oct 1st 2016 he still has not received it. My son lives an hour away.

    Oct 01, 2016
  • anon

    My wonderful mail carrier forgets to leave keys to the box she puts packages in. She puts the wrong mail in my box and my mail in other people's boxes. She had three packages to deliver to me and I got one she kept two until I called to complain. If it tells me it's out for delivery and I don't get it I have to call and have them remind her. How do these people get these jobs? She won't ring my doorbell. She will walk up and leave me a note to come pick a package up and walk away without ringing my doorbell. Because my car is in the garage she assumes I'm not home so she doesn't bother with the package, she just leaves the note and runs. I've seen her do it. Now I have a leather jacket missing and guess who I feel is responsible? Based on my experiences with her in the recent years, she's looking seriously guilty. My bank sent me 3 of the new chipped debit cards. None of them made it to me. I had to go in to the bank to get one. No one wants to help. No one has time. The people at the post office don't want to do anything that they can get away with not doing. They pretend to be stupid. Our post office closes at 4:30. When I moved here five years ago it was 5:00. They lock the doors at 4:25. I was there at 4:25 and the doors were being locked. Someone needs to step up and find out what's going on in these post offices. Evidently it's an epidemic. Great way to sink a business. Don't be surprised when people get sick of it and look for alternate ways to send things. USPS is a mess.

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    They aren't pretending to be stupid...they are!!! I come from a post office family (my father had 35 years) and over the years the postal union became less of a group protecting the wrongly accused employees, and more of a group that made sure the idiots kept their jobs at all costs (it always made my father sad, he came from a time when post office workers cared.) If I were you I wouldn't expect too much from this web site, I suppose the people who run it are part of the same government union system that has zero regard for the public (look at the VA hospital system where vets are dying and nobody gets fired), but for what it's worth I'm listening.....always be careful who you vote for, do they support unions over proper service?????

    Oct 05, 2016
  • anon

    I read these comments and find it disturbing that the USPS can't get their crap together. It's amazing how many things are getting lost these days. The system is corrupt and full of thieves. No wonder they can't keep their heads above water.

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    Shipped a package on 9/10/16 that never made it to its destination and tracking shows been forwarded to MRC. USPS customer service says that it may take months and is likely never going to be found. Can someone please assist in recovering the package ?

    Sep 27, 2016

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