Want to know exactly what mail you're getting before it's even delivered? It's not a magic trick or ESP. And it's already available in Central New York.

Thanks to a new program from the US Postal Service, you can get an e-mail with a black & white photo scan of any piece of mail that's addressed to you. There's also a convenient app for your smartphone that will show you that information. Of course, it's just a photo of the envelope, but it's a really handy way to know exactly what you should expect in the mailbox.

It's a free service called Informed Delivery, and it's now available in most of Central New York. You can sign up at the USPS website. They do ask for some personal information and then confirm that you are actually who you say you are. Once your account is confirmed, you'll have a "dashboard" where you can view all your soon to be delivered mail. There won't be anything there yet since your address has just been added to the system, but it should start reflecting your deliveries shortly.

What will you see? According to the USPS website:

At this time, images are provided for letter-sized mailpieces that are processed through automation equipment. Images of larger mail, such as catalogues or magazines, are provided only if the mailer conducts an Informed Delivery® interactive campaign. Some mailpieces, such as flats, may not be photographed by the automation equipment. If this happens, your Informed Delivery daily notification will include a statement saying "A mailpiece for which we do not have an image was included in today's mail." (USPS FAQ)

So it looks like you will end up seeing some junk mail along with those important letters, but it does still seem like a very useful service. Want to verify when someone says they've sent you an important check? Want to know if someone has been stealing your mail? Want to find out if it's worth driving home to grab that important package? Then Informed Delivery may be the answer for you.



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