Missing package? Package missing its contents?

If you have a package that

  • is missing en-route,
  • has Delivery Confirmation that says it’s delivered but the customer doesn’t have it,
  • you suspect was stolen,
  • has been rifled through or
  • has arrived without its contents

it may be time to contact the post office.  Shipping times may vary for different times of the year as well as different regions throughout the US, but if it’s been three weeks and you didn’t send it “Media Mail”, it’s probably time to look for it.

First, we ask the receiver to look around their porch, back door, garage, etc., and to check with the neighbors to see if the postal employee left it with them. It might seem obvious, but often packages are left where you wouldn’t expect to find them, and sometimes well-intentioned neighbors hold onto a package accidentally for a month. (Feel free to share the odd places you’ve found packages in the comments below!)

If you purchased Delivery Confirmation (DC), insurance or paid for one of the higher end services that includes a tracking number, you should start by calling one of three places:

  • the post office you sent it from,
  • the post office you sent it to or
  • the USPS toll free number 1-800-ASK-USPS

They will call each other about the missing package to see if it’s in either of the post offices. They can track the package using the DC number, even if you’ve already checked on-line, they are privy to more details that might help.

We had a package that was missing, and when I called the destination post office and the toll free hotline number they both saw that the package had arrived at the destination post office though I couldn’t see that online using the DC number. The destination post office said that they didn’t know what happened to it after that. The toll free number folks said all they do is call the destination post office, and, well, I already knew what they had to say…

When I asked the hotline person what happens next, they said nothing, that’s the end of the line. They told me that unless I bought insurance there is nothing else that can be done, but I found out that’s not true.

I asked the hotline person if the info was gathered someplace, so if lots of packages go missing they get an idea of what location/route was having issues. They said no, that’s it.

I just couldn’t believe that this information was unimportant, so after a good deal of research that I found the US Postal Inspector’s website. I don’t know why it was so hard to come across this information, nor why the USPS Help Hotline wouldn’t have directed me there when there was nothing else they could do, but it was and they didn’t.

Happily our package turned up–I think had I not been persistant with keeping the post office looking for it I would have had to re-send the shipment and take a business loss.

Even if you didn’t purchase insurance or delivery confirmation, you can report your missing package/missing contents to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by filling out this form:


If you prefer to mail it to them, you can print out the mail theft report–it’s a PDF file:


You may not get your money or goods back, but you can help the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and thereby everyone who uses the US Postal Service, by reporting any of the issues at the top of this post. If they aren’t made aware of problems, they won’t have a chance to fix them.

You can contact them by phone also by calling 1-877-876-2455 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in all time zones:


or check out their entire website for more info:


For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

10 thoughts on “Missing package? Package missing its contents?”

  1. I have found it useful to let the postman know you are waiting for a package and arrange a safe place for delivering it, just in case you’re not home! I had to do this after he was leaving my packages under the rug at my door – mind you, they were 15x15x5 boxes, not little at all!

  2. As a USPS rural carrier associate AND and online seller, I commend you for posting accurate information on your site rather than complaints and all the rest. This information truly is helpful to those willing to go the extra distance!

    Thanks you for your effort and I really appreciate the unbiased accuracy without mudslinging. It’s refreshing :). Glad to hear your package turned up!

  3. Not a package persay, but a letter. I don’t know where it got off to, but it was mailed right here in my city. It was post marked Dec 1996. It came in my mailbox summer of 2001!

  4. Never thought I would have to come back to look for this info, I have my first lost package!!!

    P.S. The mailman has resorted to hiding packages in my alcove (porch), behind a column. A little more resourceful than under the doormat 🙂

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