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data protection

HIPAA Compliant, Protecting Data in the USPS Mail Stream

When sending confidential information or information the needs to be HIPAA compliant it is important that the information remains confidential even once it is mailed.  It is a federal offense to tamper with and/or open mail addressed to someone else, but precautions need to be taken to ensure information remains confidential while the mail remains unopen.  

It is important to use security tint envelopes that will prevent the contents from being seen through an unopened envelope.  Security envelopes have patterns on the inside of the envelope so that if someone tries to look through the envelope they will be unable to read the contents.  There are a few different tints available, but regardless of the tint security envelopes will be sufficient to ensure the data concealed in the envelope will not be able to be deciphered by looking through the envelope.

Many companies take the precaution of using security tint envelopes with confidential and HIPAA compliant mailings, but many do not evaluate whether confidential information will be able to be seen through the window on and envelope. It is important to design your mail piece to ensure that no confidential data can be seen through the window, as this can be seen by mail carriers and other individuals who come in contact with unopened mail.  Once inserted into envelopes letters will move, mail houses are required by the USPS to tap the contents of the letter to the bottom of the envelope and ensure that the address fits to a specific area within the window.  Yet, it is very likely that the letter can shift up in the envelope while the mail is being processed.  It is important to understand this and design the letter so that confidential matter cannot be seen if the envelope shifts.  The best way to do this is to ensure that the confidential contents are below the fold and thus cannot be seen regardless of how the letter shifts in the envelope.

It is important to take any step to safeguard confidential information. Ensuring the use of security tint envelopes as well as designing the contents appropriately will help ensure that confidential information cannot be seen when the piece is in the USPS mail stream