There have been some stories in the press recently about Move Update compliance. It seems that Postal Inspectors may have recently stepped up the enforcement of the Move Update rules. Some mailers have been subjected to investigations and hefty fines. Are you sure that your organization is in compliance? If you're not positive about this, we recommend that you take steps to find out.

Ironically, in some of the cases that were quoted in the articles, the mailers had been the recipients of recent awards and recognition by the USPS as outstanding mailing partners. They thought they were doing a great job! The cases come down to a matter of dotting i's and crossing t's. There are a set of USPS-approved move update methods. If you don't use those methods, or can't prove that you do, you could be in violation. This is not a place you want to be.

I doubt that the mailers in question are denying the fact that their procedures for ensuring current and accurate mailing addresses were different from the strict interpretation of the rules. But in spirit, they were certainly doing all they could to achieve address accuracy. In fact, the methods these mailers used probably required more work and cost them more money than the USPS-approved solutions. And in many cases, they were likely to be more accurate since the information came from the customers themselves, not a database that can contain errors or be out of date.
As these mailers found out, ignorance is no defense. Sending your mail to a presort bureau or other mail service provider does not protect you from Postal Inspector action. If you're the permit holder, you are responsible for knowing what is being done with your mail by companies that prepare it for you.

Have you audited the move update procedures performed on your mail recently? Have you ever done that? Probably not!

The baseline move update rules have been in place for a long time. That means a violation discovered today can potentially be applied to all the mail you prepared over the last 12 years. That's a whole lot of postage discounts to lose in one fell swoop - millions of dollars worth!

Add "Check our move update procedures" to your list of things to do. Don't delay. Hiring someone to do an audit is a worthwhile expenditure to eliminate a risk of this magnitude. After you explain your exposure to the legal department, they'll be happy to write the check to protect you.

Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants. (503) 757-6557, www.printmailconsultants.com