Risk Management Services

A Unit of the Business Affairs Division

Suspicious or Threatening Parcels & Letters

Notes and Precautions:

It is possible, although highly unlikely, that a staff member may someday receive a suspicious parcel or letter. Biological or chemical threats targeting individuals or departments can frequently be controlled by screening of materials and by following the procedures listed below. University Police and responding Public Safety agencies have plans in place to deal with these types of threats. Following the procedures below will activate those plans and promote the highest level of safety while minimizing the disruption associated with these incidents.

  • Mail and package delivery to each department should be screened for suspicious letters and/or packages. Common features of threat letters/packages are:
    • No return address
    • Hand written or poorly typed address
    • Misspelling of common words
    • Restrictive markings such as "Confidential," "Personal," etc.
    • Incorrect titles or titles with no name
    • Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address
    • Excessive or foreign postage
    • Oily stains, discoloration or odor
    • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
    • Excessive weight and/or feel of a powdery or foreign substance
  • Suspicious letters and packages should not be opened and should not be handled any more than is absolutely necessary. If there is nothing leaking from the suspicious item leave it alone and call University Police at 9-1-1.
  • If you open a letter/package that claims to have contaminated you, but there is no substance seen or felt in the envelope or on the letter, chances are that you have not been contaminated. Call University police at 9-1-1 and tell them exactly what you have done and what information you have in regard to the threatening letter. They will dispatch the appropriate personnel to your location to follow-up on your possible exposure and to document what has taken place. DO NOT handle the suspicious item anymore and DO NOT let anyone else handle the item.
  • If you open a letter/package that claims to have contaminated you and there is some sort of foreign substance in the envelope or package:
    • Place the letter back into the envelope/package, close it back up, or cover the letter and substance with anything (cloth, paper, etc.). Do not remove this cover.
    • Alert others in the area to leave.
    • Wash all exposed skin with soap and water.
    • If your clothes are covered with a significant amount of the substance, carefully remove the contaminated clothing and, if possible, place into a plastic bag.
    • Call University Police at 9-1-1 to report the situation and tell the dispatcher you have opened the envelope/package, there is a substance inside, and what you have done up to that point.
  • Police and Risk Management responders can evaluate the risk to those in the room at the time of potential exposure as well as any impact on the remainder of the building. Based upon that risk assessment, further emergency measures may be implemented as necessary. If the risk is found to be minimal, other areas of the facility will not be disrupted and any necessary actions to return the area involved to normal activity will begin as soon as possible.

Suspicious Letter and Package Indicators

FBI Advisory - If you receive a suspicious package or letter - What should you do?

OSHA - Protecting the Worksite Against Terrorism: Anthrax