Actually one of the better anti-counterfeiting methods the USPS could use is also one of the oldest - they should start printing more stamps using (hand) line-engraved Intaglio printing. I'm guessing counterfeiters could still fool a lot of buyers, especially if they don't have a genuine example to compare it with, but engraved stamps are pretty hard to duplicate convincingly. Presumably a CAD/CAM driven computer could do a halfway decent job of copying the engraving, but it's pretty easy to tell a computer-driven engraving from one done by hand, in my opinion. Not to mention it would force the counterfeiters to invest in a bunch of new, expensive equipment.
Of course the USPS will never do this for many different reasons, but we as collectors can always dream....
The current problem with counterfeits might also explain why I haven't had letters franked with modern imperf/no die-cut stamps rejected as "pictures of stamps" in a long time, despite my sending hundreds of mailings with them. I used to have that happen fairly frequently. Anyway, I haven't heard of counterfeit, uncut, imperf press sheets on the market. Seeing an imperf pair/strip/block on an envelope might be the surest tipoff of all to the USPS that the stamps are genuine.
I think that they could pull off intricately engraved stamp issues if they cut back to just what is needed to make rates. The problem would then be the billions of non-engraved stamps floating around that will take years or even decades to clear. Unless you set an expiration date, but that dog will not hunt with Forever stamps. There would be an uprising from the population the likes of which we have not seen since the Bud Light fiasco.
According to a final USPS ruling posted April 11 on the U.S. Federal Register and explained in an April 20 Postal Bulletin, mail articles with counterfeit postage will henceforth be considered abandoned and disposed of at the discretion of the Postal Service. These new standards were supposed to go into effect this past weekend, so that as of May 7, the abandoned items "will no longer be returned to the sender." I'd expect there will be a reasonable volume of mail thus abandoned and destroyed, and folks wondering why their mail never made it to the destination, or why the item they ordered never arrived. The USPS advice for avoiding this problem: buy your stamps from the Post Office.
Quote: Let's say I buy some stamps from the USPS that missed getting their tagging. We know that does happen. Then I use one and the PO sees no tagging and assumes it is counterfeit and destroys it...
Possible, but not terribly likely. Regardless, ideally they should return items to sender, with markings or a "body bag" noting that the stamps are fake, otherwise the average person might be clueless why their mail isn't getting through. I assume they don't want to do that because it would incur more costs. But if the goal is to dis-incentivize the use of counterfeit stamps, it's hard to see how making mail disappear with no explanation is going to get that message across.
If that's how the USPS chooses to deal with the issue, they also need to launch a massive public service announcement and keep it up over an extended period of time. The simplest way would be (multiple) direct mailings to every household, but they probably should advertise in other media if they really want to get the message across.
Of course, I suspect that what's really going on is that the USPS doesn't really have any plan at all, and they're just merely trying to "put the fear of God" in people to scare them off discount postage, knowing full well that most counterfeits will continue to get through. If that's the case, it probably will have some effect and has the added benefit of being without any significant financial cost.
Not sure why they just don't make it illegal to purchase forever stamps at less than face value. Violators will be prosecuted, etc. Send out an educational mailer to every household in the US explaining the rules and why this is necessary to avoid counterfeits.
Won't solve the problem entirely (people selling counterfeit postage out of their trunk?) but I think a strict policy plus an education campaign would help.
Quote: Defeating counterfeit postage – In FY2022, the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service seized more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps with an estimated $7.8 million loss avoidance for the Postal Service. Expanded actions to crack down on fraudulent postage include:
Postal Service interdictions of packages with counterfeit labels affixed. The Postal Service will fully exercise new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage.
Reviews of shipments on Postal Service docks and during warehouse outreach visits
Shut down of websites and closure of eCommerce accounts selling counterfeit postage
Engagement and partnership with eCommerce companies to disrupt activity
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collaboration
Promotion of the Inspection Service's rewards program which provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person that unlawfully uses, reuses, or forges postage stamps, postage meter stamps, permit imprints, or other postage; or uses, sells, or possesses with the intent to sell any used, forged, or counterfeit postage stamp or other postage.
I don't particularly care for the following idea, but, since Forever stamps are growing closer to $1 each, and $1 Federal Reserve Notes have unique serial numbers printed on them, maybe it is time for stamps to have unique serial numbers too, then while sorting mail USPS machinery could read the serial number and hold for further scrutiny anything lacking a valid number.
Hi @Uknjay, Your wisdom is much appreciated here. In addition to printing processes, you may have an insiders view of many USPS standard practices. In another thread, you wrote,
Quote: Lost envelopes and packages are sent to the dead letter morge. Where every effort is made to determine where it is going or where it was sent from. In an effort to return it to in rightful owner. In some cases it can not be done. In this case it is placed in bonds and sold at auction to the highest bidder as dead mail.
In this thread about counterfeit forever stamps, an April 20th Postal Bulletin is mentioned that "mail articles with counterfeit postage will henceforth be considered abandoned and disposed of at the discretion of the Postal Service", and further a May 12 Press Release says "The Postal Service will fully exercise new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage."
Would you know if the USPS will follow the Dead Letter protocol to identify the sender of the mail items lacking legitimate postage and return them, possibly Postage Due, or does the USPS literally plan to dispose (destroy, shred, burn) mail that was sent (intentionally or unknowingly) with fake stamps?
How does the USPS determine genuine vs counterfeit? I'm sure there are top secret methods that the USPS will not disclose, but my concern is about false positives. If on my letters I use pre 1960s stamps without tagging, how can I know this new machinery won't confiscate my letters thinking they are fake stamps (without tagging)?
And is the sender notified when the USPS disposes of a customer's mail, through Inform Delivery or other methods? Or is their only notification of the confiscated mail a Late Fee from their credit card company or a missed car payment?
What if the mail is sent Certified or Insured with counterfeit postage. Is that also destroyed? Inquiring minds want to know.
The USPS Mail Recovery Center is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Since April 2013, the postal auctions have been held online and include not only material lost in the U.S. but also material from other national postal authorities who consign them to the USPS for auction. The MRC received about 67 million items in fiscal year (FY) 2019.
I can only say the USPS can identify counterfit postage. What they will do with it I do not know. It costs the USPS a lot of money every year in lost revenue. I can only say it is best to not use counterfit stamps. If you use untaxed stamps per 1960. I live person will look at the face of the envelopes and packages. If older stamps are used and are genuine the item will return to active transport and go on to ii's destination.
"Would you know if the USPS will follow the Dead Letter protocol to identify the sender of the mail items lacking legitimate postage and return them, possibly Postage Due, or does the USPS literally plan to dispose (destroy, shred, burn) mail that was sent (intentionally or unknowingly) with fake stamps?"
Under this new policy they will not make any attempt to return the item or notify the sender. I have no idea whether they plan on destroying it or adding it to the dead letter pile that is auctioned off.
" I live person will look at the face of the envelopes and packages. If older stamps are used and are genuine the item will return to active transport and go on to ii's destination."
Only if the can ID them as genuine. Plenty of USPS workers are not familiar with all the stamps that have been issued.