Group Says Advertising Among Safest Kinds Of Mail

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The Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association is trying to ease the public's fears about direct mail advertising because of the anthrax scare by stating that advertising mail is among the safest types of mail.

MFSA said mail is safe because it must be taken to the post office in a face-to-face transaction and is accepted there only with some type of authorized identification mark. This marking allows the mail to be traced to the authorized mailer, making it an unlikely candidate for intentional contamination.

MFSA said there are usually two types of identifying marks used in advertising mail: a postage meter imprint or a pre-printed indicia that appears near the corner of the envelope where a postage stamp usually appears. The marks contain information about the mailing city and authorizing permit number.

Postage meter imprints contain the authorizing permit number as part of the imprint, which identifies the mailer.

Mail carrying a pre-printed indicia, MFSA said, is even less vulnerable to intentional contamination. To use an indicia, mailers must have a permit from the U.S. Postal Service and meet stringent preparation requirements.

Advertising mail has not been the source of any anthrax cases, the group said.

MFSA is an 82-year-old trade association based in Alexandria, VA, serving the needs of mailing and fulfillment service companies. The group noticed that the anthrax scare is affecting members' business because clients are postponing mailings.

In addition, most firms that prepare advertising mail and business mail employ a variety of security measures to protect their facilities and prevent any tampering with the mail. These measures may include controlled access to mailing facilities, background checks on employees, routine spot-checking of mail to identify potential problems and periodic security reviews of their operations.

MFSA said that of the 680 million pieces of mail delivered every day -- and with more than 20 billion pieces of mail handled since Sept. 11 -- only an extremely small number of locations have had anthrax cases.

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