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Why is it a federal crime to tamper with mail

By Spodek Law Group | March 7, 2023

Protecting Your Mail: Understanding Mail Tampering and Mail Fraud


As a nationwide law firm, the Spodek Law Group and Attorney Todd Spodek understand the importance of protecting your privacy and personal information. When it comes to mail, tampering can have serious consequences, and it is important to understand the laws surrounding this crime. In this article, we will discuss what mail tampering is, the potential consequences of this crime, how to report it, and the difference between mail tampering and mail fraud.

What is Mail Tampering?

Mail tampering is a crime that involves interfering with mail that is intended for another person. This can include opening, destroying, damaging, or removing mail from a mailbox. Under most state laws within the United States, mail is considered private property, and an individual has an expectation of privacy attached to their mail. When this expectation is breached, the offender may be guilty of mail tampering.

Examples of Mail Tampering

Removing mail from someone else’s mailbox, even if it is just to “borrow” a book of stamps, may lead to a charge of mail tampering. Other actions that can be considered mail tampering include destroying, damaging, or interfering with mail, such as throwing away mail intended for someone else.

Potential Consequences of Mail Tampering

Mail tampering is a serious crime that can lead to imprisonment, fines, or a term of probation. Under most state statutes, tampering with mail is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to a year or two. The severity of the punishment will depend on the specific circumstances of the crime.

How to Report Mail Tampering

If you suspect that someone has been tampering with your mail, it’s important to take action right away. This type of offense is a serious crime and could have disastrous consequences for your personal identity, finances, safety, and more. If you think you know who has been tampering with your mail, do not confront the person yourself. Instead, take steps to contact professionals who can help you.

Contacting the United States Postal Inspection Service

The first step in reporting mail tampering is to contact the United States Postal Inspection Service. This organization is a type of police force that specializes in handling legal issues involving the United States Postal Service. You can visit their website, send an email, or call them directly at 1-877-876-2455 for help with this issue.

Contacting the United States Postal Service

You will also need to contact the United States Postal Service to report all missing mail and packages. Any tracking numbers you can provide will help expedite your case. It may help to temporarily forward your mail and packages to a new address or PO box until the issue is resolved. Send any outgoing mail by using a public mailbox or visiting your local post office.

Mail Fraud vs. Mail Tampering

Mail fraud is another crime that involves the mail, but unlike tampering, it is a federal crime. Mail fraud involves using the United States mail to carry out a scheme or plan to unlawfully obtain money or anything else of value. This crime is often used as a reason to make what would otherwise be just a violation of state law a federal offense.

Examples of Mail Fraud

One example of mail fraud is elaborate schemes to steal money from victims by convincing them to send money to a non-existent charity. Although the connection to the U.S. Postal Service may not be as obvious in other cases, if even one check, document, or package was sent through the U.S. Mail during the course of a crime, then mail fraud may be charged, elevating it to a federal crime. In reality, many crimes could be charged at the federal level using the mail fraud charge, but federal district attorneys are selective regarding when they choose to file charges of mail fraud to elevate a crime to the federal level.

Potential Consequences of Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a serious crime that can result in significant consequences, including fines and imprisonment. Under federal law, anyone who steals, takes, or abstracts mail or any article or thing contained therein, or buys, receives, or conceals, or unlawfully has in their possession any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, knowing the same to have been stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted, can be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

Protecting Your Mail

It is important to take steps to protect your mail and prevent mail tampering or mail fraud from occurring. Here are a few tips to help you protect your mail:

Use a Locking Mailbox

Consider using a locking mailbox to prevent unauthorized access to your mail. This is particularly important if you receive sensitive or confidential information through the mail.

Don’t Leave Mail in Your Mailbox Overnight

If possible, avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight. This makes it more vulnerable to theft or tampering.

Track Your Mail

Track your mail and packages using the tracking numbers provided by the sender. This allows you to monitor the progress of your mail and quickly identify if anything has gone missing.

Report Any Suspicious Activity

If you notice any suspicious activity around your mailbox or notice that your mail is missing, report it to the authorities right away. This could help prevent further tampering or fraud from occurring.


Mail tampering and mail fraud are serious crimes that can have significant consequences. If you suspect that someone has been tampering with your mail, it is important to take action right away. Contacting the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Postal Service can help you report the incident and protect your mail. By taking steps to protect your mail and report any suspicious activity, you can help prevent mail tampering and mail fraud from occurring. As a nationwide law firm, the Spodek Law Group and Attorney Todd Spodek are here to help protect your privacy and personal information.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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