Asked And Answered: Campaign flyers in mailboxes illegal?

Asked And Answered: Campaign flyers in mailboxes illegal?
Published: Dec. 1, 2015 at 5:12 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2015 at 8:46 PM EST
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The campaign season is almost over, and the run-off election is now, but you've probably seen some campaign fliers around: some are legal; some are illegal. If it doesn't have a paid postage in the corner, it is illegal if it is in your mailbox or even touching your mailbox. 
‎WTOC viewer, Michael Powers, was really worked up -- and wrote me on Facebook asking: "Don, I just retrieved a "Vote for Edna Jackson" flyer from my mailbox. It was not stamped or postmarked. It was put in by a non-postal worker. Isn't this a punishable federal offense?"
In most cases, placing political campaign literature on the outside of a mailbox won't get you into hot water with the United States Post Office, but all it takes is one mailman - or customer - who's having a bad day to decide he's going to report you. It's better to just keep your fliers far away from mailboxes and put them in the voter's door, or under the doormat.
If you're leaving campaign literature, fliers, brochures, or door cards at people's houses, make sure your stuff doesn't come in contact with the mailbox in any way.
Most people don't know this, but the United States Post Office is allowed to fine. The fine can be anywhere from $100 to a maximum of $5,000, and if you own a business who likes to put fliers in mailboxes - like a roofing company or a lawn service - you may even get an extra bill in the mail from the post office, for due postage. 
The bottom line - keep your hands out of and away from other people's mailboxes unless you work for the post office. 
Do You have a question for Asked and Answered? Send them to or message me on Facebook here. 

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - MORE: While not necessarily likely to be punished, it is illegal. Here is what the United States Postal Service says about these kinds of situations: "The U.S. Postal Service would like to warn people that only authorized U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox. By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail.

Recently, there have been reports of people placing non-mail items that did not bear U.S. postage in local mailboxes. The U.S. Postal Service recognizes customers may place non-mail items into mailboxes as a convenient way of "dropping something off," but those items may cause a smaller mailbox to become full. When a mailbox is full, Postal Service regulations say the letter carrier cannot place mail in the box.

Additionally, the Postal Service has received complaints of flyers without paid postage being placed in mailboxes. Though many may be unaware, it is important to know that this type of activity is illegal by federal law. It may seem to be an easy way to advertise, but only U.S. Mail delivered by authorized personnel may be placed in mailboxes.

"We know many customers might not object to having a particular item placed in their mailbox from time to time, but the reasons for restricting use of mailboxes is really two-fold," said Postmaster Keith Jackson. "First, if there is not enough room in a mailbox due to unauthorized items, the Postal Service can't deliver the customer's mail. Secondly, the Postal Service wants to ensure the integrity of our customer's mailbox. That's why only Postal Service personnel are authorized to place mail in or remove mail from mailboxes. In fact, U.S. Postal Inspectors advise customers to report people going mailbox to mailbox who are not postal employees. It could be someone completely unaware of the statute placing advertisements, but it could also be someone trying to steal mail."

"We recognize that, from time to time, the statute and the Postal regulations may cause conflict with some customers," the Postmaster continued. "When all factors are brought to their attention, however, we hope that the great majority of the public would agree that restricting mailboxes to U.S. Mail not only ensures customers receive their mail, but it also increases the security of the service."

The Postmaster noted an exception to the general rule: newspapers can be placed in mailboxes only on Sunday; a non-delivery day for the Postal Service. He additionally noted that a newspaper receptacle can be mounted on rural or curbside mailbox post or support."

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