Does your company create documents containing information like patient health data, credit card transactions, or student records? Is some of that mail occasionally undeliverable?

If so, you may be concerned about what happens to that confidential data as it makes its way through the postal delivery network and back to you. Once the USPS returns the mail, secure storage at your site and accountability for those physical mail pieces might be an issue for you too.

The US Postal Service has an alternative for you: Secure Destruction (SD).

Just as it sounds, Secure Destruction is a way to destroy those documents and the sensitive information they contain, while the mail is still in a secure USPS facility. This program shreds and recycles Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) First-Class letter mail instead of returning it to the sender.

Best of all, participating in Secure Destruction is easy and free.

This postal program is one of those rare instances where everyone wins:

1. SD saves document operations the expense and exposure connected with handling returned mail.

2. The US Postal Service saves money by not having to route and transport mail back to the senders.

3. Individuals and organizations whose private information appears on the undelivered documents don’t have to worry about misplaced mail ending up in the wrong hands and used for fraud or identity theft.

4. The environment benefits. The USPS recycles shredded documents in bulk, lowering the environmental impact of paper waste and lowering dependency on virgin paper. This program also reduces pollutants otherwise released into the air from transporting UAA letters back to the senders.

The USPS will issue daily electronic notices to inform mailers about mail pieces the USPS has destroyed, along with Address Correction Service (ACS) notifications. If you already have an ACS account, you can enroll in the program by filling out a simple, one-page form. Participation is free. Once enrolled, add a Secure Destruction Service Type ID (STID) to your Intelligent Mail barcodes, and you’re ready to go.

Secure Destruction requires an ACS account and access to the USPS Electronic Product Fulfillment (EPF) website to receive the notices.

Because IMb codes control which undeliverable pieces to shred, mailers can continue receiving physical return-to-sender mail on applications where handling the physical piece is necessary. Coding all other mail with the Secure Destruction STIDs can trim an unwieldly pile of UAA mail down to a manageable size.

For more information about Secure Destruction, check out the USPS information page:

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants works with in plant operations and print/mail service providers to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Connect with Mike directly at Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.