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Skidmore College
Emergency Preparedness

Suspicious Mail/Package Screening Procedures

What constitutes "suspicious mail"? Some typical characteristics detected by Postal Inspectors over the years, which ought to trigger suspicion, include parcels that:

  • Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.

  • Are addressed to someone no longer with your organization or are otherwise outdated.

  • Have no return address, or have one that can't be verified as legitimate.

  • Are of unusual weight, given their size, or are lopsided or oddly shaped.

  • Are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential.

  • Have protruding wires, strange odors, powders, stains or sealed with excessive tape.

  • Show a city, state or possibly mailed from a foreign country in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.

  • Have hand-written, poorly typed addresses or misspelled words.

If you receive suspicious mail

  • What you should do

1.   If it is a letter that you have opened, set it down gently at the location where you first read it.

2.   Move to an area that will minimize possible exposure. Avoid contact with others when possible, and remain in the area. If it is a note that you happen to find, leave it alone.

3.   Advise a coworker in the immediate area what has happened and ask them to call Campus Safety at 518-580-5566.

4.   For possible contamination situations, have the building's ventilation system shut down and turn off any fans in the area.

5.   Do not allow others into the area.

6.   Remain calm.

  • What you should not do

1.   Do not pass the letter or note to others to look at.

2.   Do not disturb any contents in the letter or note.

3.   Do not ignore the threat. It must be treated as real until properly evaluated.

 If you receive a threat by telephone

  • What you should do

1.     Call Campus Safety at X5566 immediately.

2.     For contamination threats, have the building's ventilation system shut down.

3.     Remain calm.

4.     Listen carefully to the caller so you can recall the details later. Listen for background noises. 

  • What you should not do

1.     Do not ignore the threat. It must be treated as real until properly evaluated.

2.     Do not argue with or antagonize the caller.