Suspicious Mail

Mail that might appear suspicious has become a common concern for those whose responsibility it is to process the University's mail as well as those in receipt of incoming mail.

Although the probability of your ever receiving mail that could cause personal injury is extremely remote, taking proper precautions in identifying suspicious letters/parcels reduces the chances of exposing you or someone in your area to personal harm.

Common characteristics of envelopes/parcels that appear suspicious

  • Any powdery substance on the outside
  • Excessive postage (usually postage stamps)
  • No return address, or one that can't be verified as legitimate
  • Cancellation postmark may show a different lcoation than the return address
  • Misspelling of common words
  • Excessive or uneven weight distribution
  • Irregular shape, soft spots, or bulges
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential"
  • Incorrect titles or titles but no names
  • Poorly typed or handwritten addresses
  • Has strange odors or stains

If the mail is suspicious:

  • Do not try to open the mailpiece
  • Isolate and don't handle the mailpiece
  • Evacuate the area
  • Anyone who may have handled the mailpiece should wash hands with soap and warm water
  • Call the Brown University Public Safety emergency number, 3-4111
  • Anyone who may have witnessed the delivery of the mailpiece should be available for questioning

Although we need to exercise reasonable precautions and common sense in these matters, if you are suspicious of a letter or parcel, do not take a chance and follow the steps listed above.

Useful links about suspicious mail