Teresa McUsic

Waiting for a piece of mail to be delivered? Check your email

The U.S. Postal Service has a new service called Informed Delivery that sends users a morning email with scanned previews of the letter-size mail that will be delivered later in the day.
The U.S. Postal Service has a new service called Informed Delivery that sends users a morning email with scanned previews of the letter-size mail that will be delivered later in the day. TNS

If you’re wondering where that refund check or birthday card from your Dad is, now you have a new way of finding out — via email.

The U.S. Postal Service rolled out a new service this month that will send you an email every morning to tell you what’s going to show up in your mailbox that day.

It’s part of a larger outreach to update the agency’s services through technology, said Twana Barber, a Dallas spokeswoman for the post office.

“With advanced technology and new ways of communicating, anybody can use their smartphone or computer, so we are seeing a decrease in mail,” she said. “We’re looking for ways to innovate to stay in the game.”

The Postal Service has been taking black-and-white images of every letter-sized piece of mail since 2013 as part of an internal efficiency program to further automate sorting, Barber said.

Now those images can be sent to your email account every morning ahead of that day’s delivery. Sign-up for the program, called Informed Delivery, is free and easy at www.MyUSPS.com.

There are several security questions to go through in order to prove your identity, similar to what you’re required to do when checking a credit report. I was asked to identify from a short list the last four digits of my Social Security number, current or past phone numbers, names or former names and type of work I do.

“If you can’t pass the security measures, you can’t sign up,” Barber said.

Once approved, however, you will get a daily email with images of up to 10 pieces of letter-sized mail. If you think you may have more than that, you can access other images on the online dashboard at MyUSPS.

Barber said the new feature is especially popular with those waiting for their IRS refund.

“If you know that refund check is going to be in your mailbox, you may want to leave work a little earlier and go cash the check before the bank closes,” she said. “It’s all about convenience for the customers.”

Many aren’t aware of other features the Postal Service has added in recent years, Barber said.

For example, if you sign up for package tracking at MyUSPS, you will receive an email or text when the postal carrier does the last scan of the package at your doorstep. This is particularly helpful during the holidays, Barber said. You can also leave instructions for where you want your package delivered around your home.

“My grandmother signed up and when she receives a package and she’s out of town, she’ll get a text, then call a neighbor and ask them to hold it for her,” Barber said.

MyUSPS also allows you to print your own shipping labels for packages, which you can then leave for the postal carrier to pick up. You can also buy stamps online at the portal and have them delivered with your mail.

“It’s like a mini-post office in your home,” Barber said. “It can save you so much time.”

Many post offices do passport processing as well. In the past few weeks, 30 post offices have held passport fairs with extra personnel, so you don’t have to wait in line or make an appointment, she said.

Passports may become an important document for citizens of four states — Missouri, Maine, Minnesota and Montana — which are not in compliance with Homeland Security for their state driver’s licenses. If states don’t become complaint with the Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, citizens of those states will need other forms of ID besides a driver’s license, such as a passport or identification card, to fly domestically by next year.

Currently Texas has a waiver to the deadline as it prepares to become compliant with the Homeland Security requirements for driver’s licenses.

Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net

Free online services

▪ The Social Security Administration allows you to sign up for retirement benefits online, bypassing the lengthy waits on the phone or having to make an appointment with the local office. Fill out the application three months before your retirement date. You can also check an estimate of future benefits or apply for a replacement SSA card online at www.ssa.gov.

▪ Check your three credit reports annually at www.annualcreditreport.com. For a free look at your TransUnion credit score, go to Discover’s service (you don’t have to be a card holder) at www.creditscorecard.com or get your Equifax and TransUnion scores and free credit monitoring at www.CreditKarma.com

▪ Renew your Texas driver’s license or car tags online with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles at www.txdmv.gov. It’s usually not necessary to wait in long lines at the DMV. New this year is the Dude, Where’s My Sticker? feature that lets you track your tags to your mailbox.