First-Class Mail Compliance is All About End-to-End Visibility

If a mailpiece finds its way into the wrong hands, your business could face a public relations problem and significant fines. Visibility is the key to simplifying mail compliance.

Fri Jun 01 12:54:00 EDT 2018

Regulations can be complex, confusing and costly, but they are there for a reason. Consumers today are increasingly worried about their personal information falling into the wrong hands. In fact, 78 percent of U.S. consumers say that a company’s ability to protect their information is “extremely important” to them, and yet only 20 percent of consumers completely trust those companies.

That’s part of the reason why demonstrating compliance is so important to First-Class® mailers – your reputation depends on it. If a sensitive document finds its way into the wrong hands, your business could face a public relations problem, not to mention the potential for significant fines handed out by major regulatory bodies.

Still, complying is a challenge. Mailers must abide by mail compliance requirements from the U.S. Postal Service as well as the unique data protection regulations in their industry, whether it’s HIPAA for the healthcare sector, Dodd-Frank for financial businesses, or GDPR for companies that do business in Europe.

Visibility is the key to simplifying mail compliance. The more you know about your mailpiece after it’s sent out into the world, the easier it is to verify that it ended up in the right hands at the right time. With the right technology solutions and mail services partner at your side, you can gain that peace of mind.

IMb™ Tracing with IntelliVIEW

To confirm compliance, mailers need to be able to identify chain of custody. This is all about knowing when your mail has been processed, when and where it’s been accepted and inducted into the USPS® mailstream, and receiving validation that it was delivered.

Technology offers that type of visibility. The USPS developed its Intelligent Mail® barcode to automatically process and track postcards, letters and flats. It applies to several different USPS mail classifications, including:

  • First-Class Mail®
  • USPS Marketing Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Periodicals
  • Bound Printed Matter flats

With the right technology solution, you can trace the IMb to confirm and report on chain of custody for compliance purposes. For example, one regional print provider in the Southeast U.S. relied on a one-two punch – Pitney Bowes Presort Services to commingle its mail and Pitney Bowes IntelliVIEW™ to track and report on its mail – to improve mail operations efficiency and visibility.

The result? Not only was the company about 10 percent more efficient, and able to tap into larger postal discounts by taking advantage of the Pitney Bowes network, but they were also able to rest easy that their mail always arrived on-time and in the right place, satisfying compliance requirements.

A Deeper Level of Traceability with 2D Barcode Scanning

While some businesses will be in good shape with the level of detail provided through IMb tracing, others require a greater level of visibility. Think of industries like healthcare and financial services, where compliance requirements are even more rigorous.

Mortgage providers, for example, are required to follow the Truth-in-Lending Act, which requires sending a Good Faith Estimate and Truth-in-Lending disclosure no more than three business days after receiving a loan application. Failure to demonstrate that an individual borrower has received these disclosures may result in hefty penalties, and it can be harder to maintain compliance the larger or more complex your mailstream becomes.

To address this, mailers can take advantage of a 2D barcode, which allows for even more data to be attached to a mailpiece than with the IMb. A 2D barcode is added not only to the outer envelope, but also to each individual document within a mailpiece, which ensures integrity throughout the entirety of mail operations. If, for some reason, a single page of a multi-page disclosure notice was lost between your printer and mail inserter, you would know before ever sending out the mailpiece. Once the mailpiece is sent, a 2D barcode can provide verification that the mailpiece reached not only its intended ZIP code, but the actual intended household.

Richer data means stronger reporting. Pitney Bowes Presort Services makes 2D barcode scanning and reporting available to our customers, providing the necessary level of detail for mailers who have stringent regulatory requirements and need documentation to show that they are in compliance.

Close the Loop with Return Mail Solutions

Still, you can do everything you need to do – send a document when it's supposed to be sent, trace it through the mail process, verify that it reached its intended address – but still fail to meet compliance regulations for one simple reason: the person you’re trying to reach has changed their address and you don’t know about it.

About 34 percent of all undeliverable-as-addressed mail in the second quarter of 2018 was due to a change of address, according to the USPS. These mailpieces are returned back to their sender, and the operational and financial impact of UAA mail can be significant. Not only do you have to spend time reprocessing and re-sending returned mail – a process that can cost up to $25 per mailpiece in ancillary business costs – but delays in re-sending could shrink down the window of time you have to send a disclosure statement or sensitive mailpiece and stay compliant.   

That’s why it’s important to close the loop on compliance with a solid strategy for handling returned mail. Mailers who rely on Pitney Bowes Return Mail solutions can improve the deliverability of their mailings by up to 75 percent because we’re able to rely on a proprietary address resolution platform to find updated addresses. That helps mailers reduce the costs of re-sending and meet compliance requirements for customer communications.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining compliance is easier when you have every opportunity to track mailpieces throughout the lifecycle, receiving validation every step of the way that sensitive information only ever reaches the hands of its intended recipient, and at the right time. The right mail services partner can provide that level of visibility, helping you meet compliance mandates, avoid unnecessary risk and build trust with your customers.

Read more about IntelliVIEW and Return Mail solutions to learn now Pitney Bowes helps mail operators stay competitive while maintaining print and mail compliance.