General Guidelines for Handling Suspicious Mail
- Notify WSU Security immediately (ext. 5555). Call 911 if you perceive an immediate risk of a dangerous situation.
- Isolate all suspicious packages and seal off the immediate area. If possible, place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other container to prevent leakage. All personnel should leave the room. If possible, turn off air flows, such as fans or air-conditioning.
- If necessary employees processing mail should wear protective gloves.
- If you have identified as suspicious package, DO NOT handle, shake or empty it. Do not carry it to other areas or show it to other people. If anything spills out, DO NOT try to clean it up.
- Cover any spilled contents immediately. You can use clothing, paper, or a trash can. Do not remove the covering materials from the spill. DO NOT cover with wet objects.
- Direct all persons who have touched the mail to wash their hands with soap and water. After hands are washed, wash/rinse face for a period of time. Make a list of anyone who has handled or come into contact with the mail. Include contact information and provide this to responding EMS personnel and WSU Security.
- As soon as practical, employees who have come in contact with any contamination should shower and place all clothing in plastic bags. The clothing should be made available to the police responding to the reported incident. Contain the potentially impacted individuals to ensure that they receive proper medical attention. Names and contact information of those that may have been contaminated should be obtained and given to public health officials.
- Attempt to verify the sender and/or the legitimacy of the package (i.e. ask the recipient if he/she was expecting a package that matches the suspect package’s size and shape).
Things to Look for When Inspecting Mail
- Origination postmark or name of sender is unusual, unknown, or no return address is given, if given, it can’t be verified as legitimate.
- Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address.
- Excessive or inadequate postage.
- Addressed to title only or incorrect title; addressed to someone no longer employed at WSU.
- Misspellings of common words or names.
- Restrictive markings, i.e. “Personal, Eyes Only or Special Delivery”
- Rub-on block lettering.
- The letter is lopsided, unusually thick or contained in an uneven envelope.
- Excessive weight, the letter or package seems heavy for its size.
- Damaged envelope(s) or packages
- Stiffness or springiness of contents; protruding wires, aluminum foil or components; oily outer wrapping or envelope; feels like it contains powdery substance (when checking do not bend excessively).
- Oily stains, discoloration, package/letter emits an odor, particularly almond or other suspicious odors.
- Crystallization or powdery substances on wrapper.
- Ticking sound.
Things to Look for When Opening Mail
- Liquids of any kind, any color
- Oily or soapy residues
- Sticky or adhesive substances