USPS Proposes Rule Requiring Endorsements on Standard Mail With Checks

The U.S. Postal Service proposed a rule in the Federal Register yesterday that would require mailers to put an endorsement requesting forwarding or return on certain mail pieces containing checks sent at Standard mail postage rates. They include convenience, balance transfer and blank checks.

In many cases, the addressee does not request these mail pieces, the postal service said. Also, other check vendors mail new books of checks to fulfill orders from customers. The USPS said in the filing that it has seen an increased amount of mail containing these types of checks.

Under the proposal, these types of checks may be sent as Standard mail only if the mail piece bears an ancillary service endorsement resulting in the forwarding or return of undeliverable mail pieces. Satisfactory endorsements include “Return Service Requested,” “Address Service Requested” and “Forwarding Service Requested,” or, for authorized users of bulk parcel return service, “Return Service Requested-BPRS'' or “Address Service Requested-BPRS.''

Mail pieces required to bear one of these endorsements would be those with checks drawn on an account of a party other than the mailer or mailer's agent, whether or not the checks are blank, the filing said. An endorsement would not be required on mail pieces containing rebate, refund and similar checks that are drawn on the mailer's account, whether or not they are mailed as Standard mail.

Steve Kearney, vice president of pricing and classification at the USPS, said the use of such endorsements is a “low-cost, relatively simple way to head off any potential problems of identity theft or theft of people's banking or checking accounts or credit card accounts that might happen in the future. As long as a mailer has a good mailing list, they won't have many pieces that are undeliverable as addressed and they won't have to pay the postage for those pieces to be returned to them.”

The security of mail pieces containing checks is enhanced by ensuring that they are, if undeliverable as addressed, either forwarded to the addressee's new address or returned to the sender, the USPS said. If the proposal is adopted, the postal service intends to defer implementation until June 1, 2005.

Written comments regarding the proposed rule must be received on or before Nov. 26. They should be mailed or delivered to the manager of mailing standards, USPS, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 3436, Washington, DC 20260-3436.

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