House passes Meng’s measure to prevent mail fishing throughout the U.S.

A juice bottle dipped in glue is an example of a fishing device used to steal checks from mailbox.
Photo courtesy of NYPD

A measure to combat mail fishing in the U.S. was recently passed in a key spending bill by the House of Representatives. 

Congresswoman Grace Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, authored the measure that would direct the U.S. Postal Service to report on the status of all collection boxes that have been retrofitted with narrow mail slots. Retrofitting collection boxes with narrower slots makes it more difficult for thieves to steal the mail that is inside. 

“Mail fishing continues to impact too many Americans and action is needed to stop this mail theft crime from occurring. In 2018, the Postal Service agreed to retrofit all blue mail collection boxes in Queens after I urged the agency to do so, and borough residents are benefiting from this improved security,” Meng said. “The agency must now take this initiative a step further and retrofit collection boxes throughout the nation in order to fully combat the problem.”

Mail fishing occurs when criminals place string connected to a sticky material into blue collection boxes. The sticky substance attaches to the mail and thieves “fish” out the envelopes. They then open the letters and steal people’s personal information such as bank, credit card and Social Security numbers. 

Last year, Meng introduced the Keep Mail Safe Act legislation to require the Postal Service to study the possibility of retrofitting all collection boxes with narrow mail slots. 

The Postal Service’s report must detail where, how, and why such retrofits have been made, and include a strategic plan for retrofitting additional collection boxes. The report must also include an estimate of the resources necessary for such a plan to be carried out throughout the entire country, and it must be completed no later than 180 days after the enactment of Meng’s provision.

 Mail fishing has resulted in many incidents of identity theft, financial and bank fraud. While the Postal Service has retrofitted some collection boxes, more must be done to deter crooks from engaging in this crime, and ensure the security of mail.

 “As we continue to fight against the unconscionable and reckless assault that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made on the Postal Service – and I continue to call for his firing – we cannot lose sight of the need to address mail fishing,” Meng said. “It’s time to stop these lawbreakers from taking people’s mail and stealing their personal and financial information.”