Incoming Mail

Reducing Unwanted Mail

When signing for packages from FedEx and UPS please look at the name of the recipient. If that person is no longer in your office it may be best to refuse the package immediately. Sending it through campus mail to the proper location can create confusion later.

The carriers will only accept the return of packages that are unopened within a certain time limit. Please do not send the package to Postal and Parcel. It can only be picked up from the location it was delivered to. You can call the service provider and tell them you have a refused package to be picked up.

Suspicious Mail

The concern of Federal law enforcement officials for terrorist activities includes the possible use of letters and packages as a delivery vehicle. It is important for you to know the safeguards that are in place.

Mail destined for Iowa State University is screened a number of times before final delivery. The U.S. Postal Service is monitoring mail as it flows through the postal stream, and mail received at Postal and Parcel Services is inspected for suspicious appearance. Any suspicious mail is returned to DPS or the U.S. Postal Service for further inspection.

It is Important to Note: All U.S. mail sent with a permit imprint or mail processed through a commercial mailing machine is traceable back to the point of origin of the permit holder or the commercial processing unit. Iowa State University uses both of these methods to apply postage to mail sent through the Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service believes it is unlikely that permit imprint or commercial mailing machine mail would be used as a delivery vehicle for terrorist activities.

Sample Permit Imprint
Sample Commercial Mailing Machine Stamp

If you receive suspicious mail (including mail or packages that have a light coating of powdery substance):

  • Do not handle or try to open
  • Treat it as suspect
  • Isolate it
  • Notify the ISU Department of Public Safety at 294-4428
  • Notify Postal and Parcel Services at 294-7790. We will contact a U.S. Postal Inspector for assistance.

If you are going to handle mail or packages that have a light coating or a powdery substance you should ALWAYS wear nitrile or rubber gloves.

If the mail / package or its contents are suspicious, and you have handled or opened the item, you should IMMEDIATELY:

  1. Isolate the item
  2. Double-bag the letter or package in a zipper type or zip-lock type plastic bag
  3. IMMEDIATELY wash your hands and face thoroughly with soap and water after removing your gloves
  4. Blow your nose and leave the tissue with the package
  5. IMMEDIATELY ensure that all persons in your department who handled the letter or package wash their hands with soap and water
  6. Notify your immediate supervisor
  7. Notify the ISU Department of Public Safety at 294-4428.
  8. Make a list of all persons who touched the letter or package and include contact information and telephone numbers. Forward this list to the ISU Department of Public Safety.

If part of your work includes handling mail, we encourage you to review these additional resources. You may choose to print copies and post them in areas where mail is handled.

For additional information on the proper handling of letters and packages, please visit Iowa State's Environmental Health and Safety web site.

Links to Other Important Resources:

U.S. Postal Service on Mail Bombs -
US Postal Service on Anthrax -