The holiday shopping season is underway so expect package predators and shipping slowdowns.
Postal inspectors make nearly 10,000 arrests each year, many for mail theft, according to the U.S. Postal Service website. The Postal Service also responds to more than 27,000 consumer fraud complaints, including reports of identity theft. About 800 police officers with the service respond to such complaints.
While online shopping may have added a great deal of convenience to many Americans' shopping experience, it has also brought about a phenomenon known as "porch pirating," and according to a new study by insuranceQuotes.com, 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their doorsteps.
But there are steps you can take to make sure your purchase arrives where intended and in one piece.
FedEx suggests requesting a signature for your package or shipping to an alternate destination where you know someone will be available to pick it up. Or, have the parcel kept on hold for up to five days at a FedEx office location.
UPS recommends wapping up fragile packages, whether toys, electronics, or appliances. The service also promotes a package timing calculator to ensure packages get to their destinations before Santa does.
Another tip: Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This could help return the package should its outside label become damaged or fall off.
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USPS has similar suggestions for keeping your packages secure in transit, including making sure to wrap each item separately when packing multiple items and shaking a package to ensure items are snug.
The U.S. Postal Service alone plans to deliver 19 billion cards, letters and packages by Christmas. Here are timetables that USPS, FedEx and UPS recommend for when packages should be sent out to make it under the tree by the holiday. And post offices nationwide will be open Christmas Eve but many will be closed by noon. Regular hours will be restored on New Year's Eve. Mailing delivery will be unaffected throughout the season.
but many will shorten retail lobby hours and close at noon. Post Offices will be open regular hours on New Year's Eve. Mail delivery will be unaffected.
If you live in New York City, Chicago or San Francisco, there's an app, Doorman, that is designed to prevent unattended packages from being stolen. It gives users the address of a warehouse to use as the shipping address during online checkout. Once the package arrives at the warehouse, customers are notified and can arrange for a delivery driver to drop it off when convenient.
If all these tips prove to be unsuccessful and your package is stolen or destroyed, you can file a claim online with USPS, FedEx and UPS.