Avoid the blue box blues: USPS offers tips for the holidays

The holidays often mean presents, but before shipping any gifts this holiday season, the United States Postal Service is warning customers to be careful about how they send packages.

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While identity theft may be a concern year-round, many people send gift cards, checks or money through the mail this time of year, prompting security concerns. Despite some reports about security concerns regarding the blue boxes used for mail collection, USPS says if the boxes are used correctly, they are secure. USPS said before using the blue box, you should check the collection times listed. Never place mail into the box after the last collection for the day to ensure the mail isn’t left sitting overnight.

USPS warns customers never to send cash through the mail, and if you don’t receive a check or other valuables, contact the sender immediately.

Customers can always mail letters by handing them directly to a letter carrier or bringing them to a post office.

If you’re planning to be out of town over the holidays, tell the post office so they can hold your mail. You can also ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check your mail and bring in any packages that are left outside your home.

Sign up for Informed Delivery, a free service which offers a daily email notification summary of incoming mail and packages.

For customers planning to ship items for Christmas, here are the recommended send-by dates from USPS for expected delivery before Dec. 25:

USPS Retail Ground: Dec. 17 (Alaska: Dec. 2).

First-Class Mail: Dec. 17.

Priority Mail: Dec. 19 (Alaska, Hawaii: Dec. 17).

Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23 (Alaska, Hawaii: Dec. 21).

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