Don’t Hang or Tape Mailers to Mailboxes – It’s Illegal! Here’s Why

By: Andrew Glover
November 4, 2019

It’s illegal to tamper with mailboxes. You can’t place non-postage stamped mailers inside mailboxes or hang them on the outside of a mailbox. Doing so can result in a hefty fine for each infraction. It can even lead to a federal investigation because mailbox tampering is considered a federal crime. Hanging or taping mailers on mailboxes may seem like a more relaxed and cheaper method than mailing the materials directly. Still, it isn’t worth the risk of paying a fine or undergoing a federal criminal investigation.

Illegal Activity

The only marketing material that should be hanging on or in mailboxes is material that you mail through the United States Postal Service. Most people know they can’t place materials inside someone’s mailbox, but many people think they found a way around this by hanging the content on the mailbox or the mailbox post. Every part of the mailbox is an exclusive domain of the United States Postal Service. Every component includes the base of the post up to the mailbox flag. USPS is protected by federal law, and there are stiff penalties you may encounter for breaking this law.

Why Is It Illegal?

It may seem extreme to fine people for hanging or taping mailers to mailboxes, but there are several reasons why it’s illegal. There may not be enough room in a mailbox due to unauthorized items. If every business in town could insert mailers, they would be full before the homeowner’s real mail arrived. The Postal Service also wants to maintain the integrity of a person’s mail. That’s why postal workers are the only people authorized to place the mail inside and remove mail from mailboxes. U.S. Postal Inspectors advise people to report others going mailbox to mailbox who are not postal workers. The culprit may be unaware of the law, but it could also be someone trying to steal mail.

What Are the Penalties?

The law is commonly known as “mailbox restriction.” The Government Accountability Office mentions fines could be as high as $5,000 per occurrence for individuals and $10,000 per occurrence for organizations. No matter how convenient it may seem for you to tape a mailer to a mailbox, the potential fines are not worth it. It can also impact your organization’s reputation if you are outwardly breaking the law.

A Better Way to Advertise

There are much better ways for your organization to advertise and reach members. Sending your materials through direct mail channels gives you a comparative advantage. Direct mail offers better campaign tracking and a better return on investment.

Use Pre-Sorted Standard Mail

While the costs of a first-class “forever stamp” is currently $0.55 (2019), you can get substantial postage discounts if you mail “presorted standard” which starts at $0.291 for a for-profit organization and can be as low as $0.138 for a non-profit organization. The minium mail quantity to get this rate is only 200 pieces, and depending on your mail package (postcard vs. generic letter vs. multi-piece personalized letter package) it can be cheaper to have a mail-house print and mail your direct mail campaign for you compared to doing it on your own at the first-class stamp rate.

Campaign Tracking

You can include a pURL (personalized URL) in your direct mail, which helps you track your campaign success. The pURL helps merge your offline and online marketing channels. By using a pURL, you will notice a longer engagement window, as well. Looking at DMA information, you can see a response rate increase of 50 to 100 percent. Using pURL’s in direct mail is a much better way to track your campaign compared to taping fliers on mailboxes. Don’t waste your time and resources on a method that doesn’t show you results long term.

Return on Investment

Another option many people choose is taping or hanging a flier on a door instead of a mailbox. Hanging an advertisement on an entry is not illegal, but it’s still a time-consuming process that won’t provide you with a high return on your investment. You want your marketing campaign to be successful. Direct mail promises a better ROI than hanging fliers on doors. You can target specific neighborhoods when you hang fliers, but you can target an audience much better with direct mail. Targeting the right audience is what helps your ROI the most because you are pinpointing individuals who will appreciate your message more than randomly selected households.

Choose Valtim for Your Direct Mail Needs

Direct mail is a legal advertising option that is less obtrusive than hanging a mailer on a door. Your organization benefits from direct mail by obtaining an easy way to track your campaign. You will also likely see improved ROI as you can target your audience more effectively.

Valtim offers many services that can help your organization along its way to direct mail marketing. We will help you find the right audience and can help with finding the cheapest mailing option available through the United States Postal Service.

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