ZIP codes have nothing to do with security
Can you pass on this friendly reminder? If you receive a credit card or a bank statement in the mail, be sure to shred the envelope. The bottom of each envelope has a bar code that the post office sprays on to facilitate the mail sorting machines to sort each envelope. The spray also has the ZIP code. This ZIP code is a security code that no one else should have access to because it is requested to complete many transactions.
Answer: Actually, the bar code and ZIP code have nothing to do with security -- they're strictly postal aids in processing mail and facilitating delivery, explained Lynn Moore, manager of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii.
The bar code does not contain any information other than that dealing with the address, she said.
"It's strictly the address, city, state, ZIP code," she said. "There's some kind of little check-and-balance (information) to make sure everything adds up (in the address), but nothing to do with security and certainly nothing to do with the contents of the mail."
Moore noted that correctly addressed mail might have a ZIP code "to the plus four," meaning the usual five-digit code, plus four digits.
Those additional digits in the ZIP code allow "a finer sort," she said.
Even if the person sending the mail does not add those four digits, with a correctly written address on the envelope, automated bar code "readers can automatically assign a 'plus four' because of the database," Moore said.
"But that's all internal, and that has nothing to do with the bar code being anything other than the address."
She also said using bar-code sorters to process the mail "does not add a step; it eliminates a step" because the use of such automation "reduces handling, reduces misdirecting mail, things like that."
The POSTNET (Postal Numerical Encoding Technique) involves applying the bar code via ink-jet.
To the woman driving a Nissan Quest makai on Nuuanu Avenue at 1:30 p.m. Friday. I was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Nuuanu and Pauahi streets, but you chose not to stop to let me continue crossing. Instead, you continued through the intersection, then blocked the crosswalk I was already in with your van, forcing me to stop suddenly and walk outside the lines to continue to the other side of the street. In my attempt to stay in the crosswalk, I brushed against the back bumper of your car (remember, you were completely blocking the crosswalk). Then you had the nerve to roll down your window and admonish me for bumping your car and threatened to call the police. Tell you what, next time you should obey the law by 1) letting the pedestrian continue crossing if they're already in the crosswalk, and 2) if there's not enough room to clear the intersection due to traffic, wait a few seconds until there is enough space to clear the crosswalks. -- K. Kam
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. See also: Useful phone numbers