The USPS® is considering a potential new program that will allow mailers to opt to have mail that would otherwise be considered returned to sender (RTS), disposed of in a secure manner. This means that an undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail piece would be shredded by USPS® employees at USPS® facilities, instead of being returned to the mailer.

Mailers would be required to participate in Traditional ACS™, OneCode ACS®, or Full-Service™ ACS™ to receive notice of disposed mail pieces, and the mail must bear an Intelligent Mail® barcode containing a Secure Destruction Service Type ID.

Currently, First-Class Mail® is eligible for disposal only when the mailer is an ACS™ participant, has the Change Service Requested Endorsement, and Option 1 or Option 2 indicated in the Universal Mailer File (UMF).

Proposed handling procedures include an Electronic Notification of treatment that is sent to mailers via ACS™ fulfillment, and mail pieces are sorted to a special bin for manual verification and shredding. Secure Destruction Data associated with the IMb as well as event data (i.e. facility name, date and time) will indicate when the letter was separated for destruction.

First-Class Mail® cannot be destroyed until it has passed various database processing checks and an ACS™ record generated. If ACS™ cannot be generated, the mail piece is returned to sender. If the IMb cannot be read, it will be treated unendorsed. It the mail piece is unendorsed, it will be returned to sender if a forwarding address is not on file with the USPS®.

The USPS® is considering 7 pilot sites, with eventual rollout to 62 PARS sites nationwide.

What happens next?

As with ACS™ in general, it is not foolproof or 100% accurate. Secure Destruction may destroy your mail piece, but what about the content and subsequent communication for which the piece was mailed originally? Isn’t that important, as it’s why you spent the money to mail the piece originally? Take as example, you billed your customer, the USPS® has destroyed the piece and let you know it has been destroyed. Now what? How about what not? Secure Destruction:

  • Doesn’t solve the problem of integrating data, whether ACS™ and/or physical return mail (as you will likely have both) with host information system(s), software and billing platforms
  • Does not identify the exact type of document for downstream workflow, including compliance that is specific to the document type
  • Outside of USPS® databases, the service does not locate your customer and their new address, which is key in future communications. If you are getting ACS™ updates for address changes, as well run NCOALink® (which are different databases), you still do not have address data on 50% of the return to sender volume
  • The service does not update a new phone number for your customer, for your customer service area, nor does any USPS® tool or program available today
  • The service does not apply specific business rules to automate different documents, and different workflow for ingestion and routing into your organization (departmental) for follow up

While Secure Destruction is a great alternative for large volume mailers, all business mailers should be considering all of the downstream requirements that will be needed for actually treating the issue.

Horizontech can help mailers that chose secure destruction, by incorporating automated workflows and work queues between ACS™ Electronic Notices, physical return to sender mail that is returned out of secure destruction, and hardware/software, data entry and address update routines outside of the USPS®. This is where most of the issues will reside with IT, Operations, Customer Service and unfortunately – cost.

This is where the FUN starts. Horizontech is well positioned as an expert and market innovator for processes, systems and software for managing undeliverable mail.