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 Maria, and thank you for reaching out. The best way to solve this problem is to file a Hotline complaint with the OIG. You can do this by clicking the red button at the top right hand corner of this page which reads "Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse." This will allow us to best look into this situation for you. Very Respectfully, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a letter off on July 21,2017 from Philadelphia to Jacksonville Florida & it still hasn't arrived, what should I do?

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    Waiting for US teasury check from Pennsylvania, that was mailed out today!

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    I had my mail returned to sender because my mailbox was too full of fillers and junk mail over just a couple of days. It is very important that I find piece of mail that was in that bundle of returned mail.This piece of mail was sent on July 3rd. it has been around 2 weeks since it was sent back I have filled out the mail recovery form online and never heard back.

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    Not sure if i can recover my mail...

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    I placed a white evelope in the mail box with a note wrote on the outside of it asking the postal carrier to leave me a book of stamps inside was $10.00 I never received the stamps thinking the evelope was sent out in the out going mail if you find this can you please send it back to me I live in covington va

    Jul 30, 2017
  • anon

    I put a change of address in a month ago I have yet to receive one piece of mail from where I moved from I've called the post office where I moved from I've called the post office here I've called the 800-number post office nobody seems to be able to find my mail I have to have this mail so please tell me what's my next step

    Jul 30, 2017
  • anon

    Call your post office and ask for a supervisor to assist you. You can google your local post office's branch number and call them directly. Explain your situation and they can check the system to see what the issue is with your change of address.

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    I ordered this package that was supposed to be here on Friday and it said it was delivered but its not in my mailbox. I think the mail man/lady delivered it to the wrong address.

    Jul 29, 2017
  • anon

    I cant seem to find my mail at my address

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I placed a birthday card with monetary value in the collection postbox without a return address or a delivery address. Who do I contact to try and find it.

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Reginald, and thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates fraud, waste, and abuse; as such day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Someone mail me a check Thursday will I receive it Friday

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    No. It takes longer than a day for mail to be delivered and received.

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    I lost my set of house keys in the mail in columbus ohio going to grafton ohio. One of the keys is designed for Ohio state. Is there any way of locating them.

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I mailed a check over wrapped up ina peace of paper three weeks ago to Canada and they have not received it yet how to locate it

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I mailed a birthday card to my brother in Nashville Tennessee from Colorado on July 11th and he still has not received it. Have lost all faith in the USPS. Ridiculous what we pay and they still can't get things to their destination.

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Ok I have a driver's license in the mail not delivered now for over 54days. Not only that I have a new bank card not delivered 18 business days passed when it was due. Those two together are dangerous out there for my identity. And finally there was a package for my job consisting of Magazines, holsters and double carry bags. I'm extremely frustrated as my joband my identity are out there the post office is treating it like a joke. Somebody give me some freaking answers.

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    I have a huge complaint! I mailed my first class letter to my landlord in the same city on 7/16/17 it's been 10 days now and they have not received it yet. In the past when I sent them mail they get it in 2 days now this time it's lost all of a sudden. I have filled a complaint called the toll free number and went to the post office I put my letter to. Does first class mail take this long?? Really

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    I just received a notice that my item could not be returned or delivered and was being sent to the Mail recovery center for processing . I see that there's a very low percentage that I will ever see my $5000 guitar . It's not replaceable it was one-of-a-kind and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase I'm not happy about this at all

    Jul 25, 2017
  • anon

    mailed a card to Kingman az ten days ago they have not received yet

    Jul 25, 2017
  • anon

    I have been missing mail for three weeks now how do I go about tracking my missing mail?

    Jul 25, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Ashley, and thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates fraud, waste, and abuse; as such day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 25, 2017
  • anon

    Put a package in the drop box at my local benton Arkansas drop box inside the building. It was a damaged phone I was sending for insurance purposes. Guess what? The USPS lost it. No record of it. Because they give it to a third party the next morning now I am liable for $800. Find my package. ASAP. I filed a case. But the people at the post office itself... for literally not helpful at all. I don't know about you but I don't have $800 laying around and if I did I would have just bought a phone outright. I literally have no idea why this is so complicated. And why y'all don't track what y'all ship out to third parties or why a third party is even involved. Is there anyway for someone to investigate this??? Or let me know where my package is.

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    Had a suitcase shipped to me and the post office lost it. How can a hard case luggage disappear? I was told the tracking number came off and was transferred on a package that went to PR.

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    I have sent out several messages concerning a lot package. Can i please speak with a live person concerning those?

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Sharon, and thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates fraud, waste, and abuse; as such day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    I could never use United States Postal Service to send packages to my mother who lives in a small Oklahoma town. Each and every time that done so in the past no matter what the item is it seems to come up missing. I now use UPS or FedEx only which is kinda funny being that my mother is a retired Postal worker and her ex-employer is stealing her packages. Shameful.

    Jul 23, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Troy, and thanks for your message. The best thing to do would be to file an online complaint with our Hotline. You can access the online complaint form by visiting our Website, clicking the "Contact Us" tab on the top and selecting "Hotline." This will allow us to look into the matter for you. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I accidentally sent a letter without putting my senders address I'm the top left However I did put the recipients address and they told me they have yet to receive it, the address was written in purple ink and stated the following; "Kingsisle Entertainment" as the recipients

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    Sent a thank you card to a friend who lives in Dallas GA last monday 7-10 she has yet to receive it , purchased stamp at local post office the lady told me it should be there no later than that thursday. Really frustrated, I live in FL so I didn't think it would take this long.

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I don't know if you all can help me but I have been waiting on my paycheck that was sent off last Friday from Atlanta GA to Columbus ga and have not received it yet as well as coworkers. The corporate office that sends our checks have contacted the holly springs ga post office and they said they are not at their facility anymore. So what I want to know is if you all can tell something?

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    hello, i shipped a package and it contained 108 pieces of woman's clothing. on arrival to the destination it only has 35 pieces of clothing in it? why would 73 pieces be missing? where are they?

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    The mail has been delivered to my neighbors and since it was a bill she brought it over. i am getting other peoples mail and have taken it to the postmaster at Elizabethtown Pa.Important bank statements are ,I was told by a teller indeliverable and I checked with the bank and they printed it with the correct address i was called from Lancaster and some important mail they received .with my correct address was indeliverable. i spoke the local Etown.Pa clerk today and he said it is not their fault Whose fault is it if it is a totally incorrect address put in my mailbox delivered by the mailman? It seems like just any mail without beinhg looked at is randomly delivered. please help. thank You

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    My kids sent a card to there older brother and his wife for father's day and they never received it. I purchased the postal stamps at a local branch office and the clerk assured me it would arrive by Saturday (mailed on Thursday June 15, 2017). Mailed out of Plainville, CT on route to Manchester Ft.

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    My package with tracking number 9400111699000967222774 has been showing at Atlanta location for two days I was supposed to receive it yesterday but still showing Atlanta location on way to destination where is my package or where my money back for this lost package on behalf of usps

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    My package was mailed and has never been seen again. How can I go about trying to find it. I do not have the usps tracking number. There must be some way to locate it.

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    Hello I have been waiting on my luggage for approximately 1 month (June 20, 2017) I'm looking for a Red with Black lining American Tourister Luggage. Please help. I have clothes, shoes, eye glasses, prescription, pictures, jewelry etc.

    Jul 17, 2017
  • anon

    I was at the Post Office on June 19, 2017 to mail out four packages 3 packages were delivered on June 24, 2017 and when I spoke to this postal worked on July 12, 2017 he finally told me that I had to fill out recovery form because my package might be in the lost and found my tracking has been unreal with the post office

    Jul 16, 2017
  • anon

    Package ended up there. No idea why. I have no idea how it works. Will my package be returned to me. Will it be delivered. How did it end up there. I have so many questions and can't get answers.

    Jul 13, 2017
  • anon

    I've been on hold for over an hour to speak with an agent. Does anyone actually work at the customer service center? This is ridiculous to have to wait all day long just to speak with someone. This is why I chose not to deal with the post office and use a more reliable source like FedEx or UPS. At least they answer the phone and update tracking information. USPS is supposed to be the most reliable but you're failing at record speed. Missing packages, tracking information isn't accurate or updated. FRUSTRATED! Get it together!

    Jul 12, 2017
  • anon

    I have a priority mail package that has missed its scheduled delivery date. and no updates to a reschedule yet either. does the site not update. how can it be in LA on the 8th and by the 10th not even make it when Los angeles is 50 miles away from where its going. it is NOT an international package either it is from another state and insured for a lot of money. When will i see updates. I dont know how it can take this long. honestly

    Jul 10, 2017
  • anon

    What good to you have a recovery center. You can never get anyone on the phone and i have sent mail to my son in Atlanta before and this card worth $50.00 didnt make it there are yoy hiring a bunch of theives. Plus you dont even care. I have gone every route i can to find this card. My post office which was no help. Filed a claim through the mail recovery center. Called where he lives. Nothing no one will help and you all make these big paying jobs what good are you. Plus i have read all the reviews and no help for them either. This is bull!!

    Jul 07, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Debbie, Thanks for your message. The best thing to do would be to file an online complaint with our Hotline. You can access the online complaint form by visiting our Website, clicking the "Contact Us" tab on the top and selecting "Hotline." This will allow us to look into the matter for you.

    Jul 07, 2017
  • anon

    I mailed a letter on 6/29/2017 and it's now 7/5/2017. Nothing has arrived. Could it be because of holiday weekend. How can I find it. I mailed it postage at a ups store in las Vegas headed to BURBANK ca.

    Jul 05, 2017
  • anon

    I also have a concern as it regards mail being delivered. In this case a green card is what the postal service failed to deliver.. I need to know what the deal is...

    Jul 05, 2017
  • anon

    On June 6th, 2017 I shipped a medium flat rate box to a customer I ship to often with no issues. I always tape and make sure my boxes are secure. The item departed the last stop before her local post office and then the tracking stopped. I contacted her local PO and the box never came through. I also tried contacting the sorting center and was never responded to. I promptly filed a lost package form online and haven't received a response. A week ago I received a letter from "dead mail" states away. They included the label that was on package which clearly has been pulled off and cut. I promptly filled out the form with very detailed information of the missing items. I have photos of all of the items that were shipped. All of the items were inside clear sealed bags including her name and my business card. How long does it typically take for a response?

    Jul 05, 2017
  • anon

    August, 2016 I sent my son a letter from Cold Spring,MN to St.Cloud, MN and he has never received it!!!!!!!!! Fall, 2016 My brother sent my husband a get well card and a gift card from Arlington Heights,Illinois to Cold Spring,MN. He has never gotten it. June, 2017 I sent a card and a check to Mobile,Ala. My girlfriend still has not received it. What is up???????????????

    Jul 04, 2017
  • anon

    So sad. Local post office no follow up. Call 800. Wrote online. 5 weeks since my large Manila envelope was lost... who can you go to? You have already transfer me to Jackson Ms. No feedback

    Jul 01, 2017
  • anon

    I was give two case numbers after reporting undelivered packages. I was promised a response in one business day. That was on June 23, 2017. To date, I have received no response or contact from ther post office except a survey, asking to rate the service I was given for my claim. My case numbers are HQ133621863 and HQ 133622007. I was at home the time the delivery was indicated to have been made on the tracking data - 3:35 Pm June 22, 2017. My mail did not actually arrive until 4:15, with no packages. I have been unable to find a place online to follow up on my case numbers. I get deliveries regularly and do not make frivollous claims. I have received packages intended for neighbors, delivered to my house. They are not even pretending to try and help me.

    Jun 30, 2017

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