Keeping Your Postal Mail Safe and Secure: A Look Into Our Security Practices

By: Casey Shaeffer | VP of Operations | Earth Class Mail


Published August 28, 2020

The security of your postal mail is crucial. A few pieces of paper can hold significant amounts of private information and personal data. That’s why security and privacy are vital to the operation of any digital mail provider. At Earth Class Mail, keeping your postal mail safe and secure is our number one priority.

For many of our customers, accessing postal mail online is a new concept, so it’s not surprising that many of you have questions about security. However, using Earth Class Mail to access your postal mail online actually has some security advantages over relying on a physical mailbox. From monitoring our processing facilities to the privacy of a virtual address, our products are designed with the security of your confidential information in mind.

Every step of the process protects your confidential information

How we physically handle your postal mail is a major part of securing your confidential information. We start with a high bar for hiring and training our technicians, and follow that up with strict requirements for our facility and handling processes. Thanks to these measures, we are able to safely digitize postal for thousands of customers.

Thorough employee requirements

Every member of the Earth Class Mail team must pass a thorough background check and complete an intensive security training. Every staff member is also Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) certified.

Being HIPAA-certified means our employees are trained and trusted to handle sensitive documents, including personal health information. In fact, many of our largest customers are law firms, healthcare organizations, and other companies that handle confidential information on-behalf of their employees. These companies trust us with their postal mail because they know we maintain the highest standard of security and privacy.

Secure facilities and item tracking

Your postal mail is collected at an Earth Class Mail address from across the United States, and routed to our secure processing center in Beaverton, Oregon. The center is access-restricted and monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cameras are also placed throughout the building and all visitors are logged and escorted throughout the facility.

All envelopes or packages are assigned a unique number to track and log that item through its lifecycle. Every staff member has an individual login, and every item is logged to show when and where it was processed. Your documents are always secure because we keep a thorough record of how every piece of postal mail moves through our facilities.

Digitizing your postal mail

When you receive a piece of postal mail, it goes through a process called induction. Induction involves scanning the envelope and uploading an image of it into the cloud. That image is then imported into your account dashboard. From your dashboard, you have the option to scan the contents of the envelope, deposit any detected checks, or ship, shred, and store anything you’d like.

We often get questions about the actual digitization process. Your postal mail is only unsealed when you request that the contents of an envelope be scanned. After digitization is complete, the envelope and its contents are immediately placed in a new, sealed envelope. Our system for digitization is designed to process your postal mail securely and efficiently, and only exposes an envelope’s contents for the few seconds it takes to complete the process.

Partnering with the USPS

In order for us to legally receive your postal mail on your behalf, we are registered with the USPS as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA). All new customers must complete a notarized 1583 form in order to begin using our services. Filling out a 1583 form gives us permission to accept and open your postal mail on your behalf as your designated CMRA. This process also ensures that we verify the identity of all new customers.

These thorough security and oversight measures ensure that your private information is protected every step of the way.

Protecting you from the vulnerabilities of physical mailboxes

Relying solely on a physical mailbox can leave you susceptible to identity theft. In fact, last year, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) reported 2,076 mail-theft related convictions.

Identity theft specialists advise people to check their postal mail daily and even put a lock on their mailbox to make sure that their identifying information is safe from theft. They also recommend shredding documents that have any identifying information and storing important documents (like tax returns, medical documents, paystubs, etc.) in a locked storage box.

Storing physical documents without protection can also put you at risk for loss through catastrophic events, like fire or flood. The last thing anyone wants to deal with in the midst of a crisis is trying to figure out what sensitive paperwork has been destroyed.

Using Earth Class Mail as your digital postal mail provider means you can protect yourself from many of these risks. We offer all of these services without you ever having to touch an envelope. We can also securely shred your postal mail after it’s digitized and uploaded into the cloud, so you won’t be left vulnerable to identity theft.

Conclusion

We know how important it is to keep your important documents safe and confidential. From securing our facilities to requiring our employees to become HIPAA-certified, we have designed our process to protect your postal mail at every step of the way. Outside of our thorough security practices, your Earth Class Mail account brings you a number of advantages over relying solely on a physical mailbox.

Reveleer Brings a First-in-Industry Solution to the Healthcare Market

By: Casey Shaeffer | VP of Operations | Earth Class Mail

Published August 10, 2020

For most companies, growth creates not only opportunities but also challenges. Successful organizations must decide where to focus their resources when growth makes their current systems unsustainable. Should they develop new internal processes? Or find a strategic partner?

For California-based SaaS company Reveleer, the decision point centered on their postal mail. The volume had become so high that they realized they needed to innovate and enhance and speed up their process. They began seeking technology solutions to drastically speed up mail processing.

Summary

For more than ten years, Reveleer’s platform has allowed health insurers to better track member data. In a healthcare system that is both highly regulated and privately operated, data sharing among medical providers and insurance companies is critical but inefficient. The more resources insurers pour into things like retrieving medical records and auditing codes, the higher their operating costs.

Reveleer saves insurers time and money by enabling them to obtain and manage complex data in a cloud-based platform for their compliance, quality improvement, and risk management programs. The SaaS company continues to seek opportunities to provide their customers greater efficiency and accuracy so insurers can better manage their risk.

The company’s most recent offering is a solution that automatically summarizes medical record data for HEDIS (a health plan quality measurement tool). This offering is powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology. While NLP has become well-known through products like Alexa and Google Home, its use in this context, pioneered by Reveleer, is a first in the industry.

Bringing a new product to market takes significant resources—for any company. In the healthcare industry, the regulatory hurdles alone can stall forward progress. Reveleer was able to bring this product to market by focusing on their core competencies—building software tools that support health insurers—and finding a technology partner to enhance mail processing.

Challenges

Leadership at Reveleer wanted to continue driving innovation in the healthcare industry. However, with dozens of insurance providers as customers, their operations team was in need of a solution to speed up the process. They had a choice. They could make significant investments to strengthen their mail processing function, or they could find a technology partner and stay focused.

The problem at large

While many in the healthcare industry have transitioned to electronic record management, paper documents are still common, including postal mail. Plus, health insurers and medical providers face an issue that many industries do not—personal health information is highly sensitive and protected by law from disclosure. Any efforts to streamline mail processing of healthcare documents must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Healthcare organizations that go paperless with their internal operations may struggle to implement that decision across the entire business if they continue to receive paper documents from providers, regulators, customers, or members. Digitizing mailed documents requires scanning, uploading, and sorting—time and money that could (and should) be redirected toward their primary areas of expertise.

Manual in-house integration of paper documents into a company’s existing digital platform can also cause delays and inaccuracies in customer-facing information. No matter how diligent an employee is, labor-intensive processes like data entry and multi-document scanning are ripe for errors, like misplaced pages or transposed numbers. Avoiding these types of issues requires companies to design and implement complex systems, a process that often isn’t an effective use of their resources.

Solution

“We decided our best bet was to focus on improving our platform and seek a partner that could invest and innovate in the area of mail processing,” says Jay Ackerman, CEO and President of Reveleer.

The company looked at several solutions, assessing them based on their technology, reporting abilities, and organizational alignment.

“We believed in the Earth Class Mail business model,” says Ackerman. “We saw a company committed to innovation and found a strong culture fit with the company leadership.”

“Getting started was clean and straightforward. We were able to go live very quickly,” says Ackerman. The Reveleer team created mailing addresses and customer accounts, gave guidance on the types of sensitive documents they would receive with the Earth Class Mail team, and connected the Earth Class Mail portal to the Reveleer platform to automatically pull scanned mail.

Reveleer’s postal mail is now scanned and uploaded so they can easily access it online and share it with the necessary stakeholders, such as their sales, operations, or accounting teams. Because Earth Class Mail’s mail processing team is HIPAA-certified, any healthcare information Reveleer receives is handled in compliance with relevant law.

Ackerman and the Reveleer team have been impressed with how quickly they’ve received their mail. “The turnaround time from when the mail hits [Earth Class Mail’s] loading dock to when it’s in our portal is fast,” he says.

Results

Reveleer chose to prioritize investing internal resources to mission-critical projects, like bringing its NLP solutions to market. “Earth Class Mail is allowing us to focus on developing and improving our platform so that we drive greater customer ingenuity and shareholder value,” says Ackerman.

For Reveleer, the tradeoff is paying off. By working with a strategic partner like Earth Class Mail, they're able to concentrate on their core mission. Reveleer is well-positioned to build on their recent successes and continue their expansion into an industry that’s only going to grow.

Reveleer empowers managed care organizations nationwide to take control of their risk adjustment and quality improvement initiatives. Reveleer has been named one of the most promising SaaS companies in California. The company has also been named to the Inc. 5000 and in the top 100 fastest-growing private companies in Los Angeles by the LA Business Journal.

Virtual Address Privacy and Security (what you need to know)

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By: Casey Shaeffer | VP of Operations | Earth Class Mail

Published April 27, 2020

Virtual addresses give individuals and businesses significant flexibility — they can receive and respond to postal mail items from anywhere in the world. Plus, freelancers or independent business owners can use a virtual address to keep their personal mailing address private. 

But if you use a virtual address for your postal mail, are you sacrificing data privacy in favor of agility? 

The good news is that if you use a virtual address service that follows best practices for security and privacy, your information will be as secure as if you received it in your physical mailbox — perhaps even more so. 

The bad news is that not all virtual address services follow those best practices, which is a major problem. Many of your most private and confidential documents come through the mail — W2s, health care records, tax documents, investment statements, checks. That’s why it’s a federal offense to steal someone else’s mail. 

Arming yourself with updated information about how virtual address services work and what they should be doing to protect your privacy will allow you to make an informed choice about whether to use a virtual address service and how to choose a provider. 

How does a virtual address work?

If you’ve never heard of a virtual address or virtual mail, the concept can be confusing. Isn’t virtual mail just…email?

Providers use a number of similar phrases — virtual address, digital mail, virtual mail, virtual mailbox — to describe a service that aims to digitize mail so that people can receive and respond to postal mail even if they’re not in a physical office space. 

At its most basic level, a virtual address works like this

  • You choose an address that’s owned by a virtual address service. 
  • Mail sent to that address is received by the virtual address service. 
  • The virtual address service scans the mail and uploads it to a cloud-based service where you can see it.

That’s the root process, but there’s a significant variation in the details of how an address service actually operates. And those details matter when it comes to your privacy and the security of your confidential information. 

For instance, some virtual address services contract with third parties to scan or dispose of mail items — an operational detail that automatically creates a reduced level of oversight and security.

How do virtual address services ensure security?

Any virtual address service’s number one priority must be maintaining the security and privacy of your information. 

There are several security best practices for virtual addresses you should look for when you’re choosing a virtual address service:

  • Authorization by the United States Postal Service to receive and store mail 
  • A secure facility that has 24/7 monitoring and restricted access technology
  • Background checks of all employees with access to mail
  • Barcode tracking of all mail items at every stage of processing
  • HIPAA certification for all employees that handle mail to ensure HIPAA compliance when handling health care documents
  • Onsite destruction and shredding of mail items under supervision
  • Mail items only opened and scanned with permission from mail owner 

Putting these practices in place can be time-consuming and expensive and can put some limits on a business’s ability to expand, which is why not all businesses implement them. We decided early on that security and privacy were non-negotiable, so we created a sophisticated production line at Earth Class Mail that prioritizes security, accuracy, and efficiency. 

We get over 5,000 new mail items every day, and each piece that arrives gets its own identifier — a barcode used to audit every single operation that’s performed on that piece of mail. 

For instance, if a customer opens their account and requests that a piece of mail be shredded, an employee doesn’t run over to a shelf, grab a document, and shred it. 

Here’s how it works: the request prompts an internal work order. The operator receives the work order, scans the barcode on the appropriate bin, and verifies the correct piece of mail by scanning its barcode before anything gets shredded. Each step in the process ensures that all actions taken match the customer’s intent. Plus, the customer can see a full report of every transaction.

We developed our process to give our customers fast and accurate service while providing them the highest level of security and data privacy.  

How do virtual address services maintain data privacy?

When you’re turning your mail over to someone else, you want to be sure that the correct actions are occurring to your mail as well as that the virtual address service is handling it in a way that safeguards your privacy. 

So what can a virtual address service do to make sure your private data is kept…private? 

We answered that question by focusing on three parts of our business: facilities where mail is received and stored, employees that handle mail, and the processes involved with handling mail.

Managing virtual address facilities to ensure privacy 

A virtual address service that is focused on safeguarding your privacy will have mechanisms in place to limit the access to that mail. 

Though we have more than 80 virtual addresses around the country, all of our mail is received and processed in our main mail processing center in Beaverton, Oregon. Our facility, is monitored by camera 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We use best-in-class restricted access technology to ensure that only approved personnel can enter the facilities. 

Some virtual address services partner with local small businesses that have available real estate and are willing to share their physical address. Employees of that small business scan the mail. This practice raises a number of privacy concerns, one of which is whether the local business’s office has any security system in place to keep unwanted individuals out. 

Virtual address employee practices to ensure privacy

A virtual address service must thoroughly vet potential employees and have complete oversight of employee actions so that they can prevent any privacy breaches. 

At Earth Class Mail, we’ve addressed this need by performing background checks on all employees and requiring any employees that handle mail to become HIPAA-certified, which means they’ve received training on handling confidential health care documents. 

And we maintain complete oversight during the mail handling process. Virtual address services that partner with local businesses, as mentioned above, often use the employees of that business to scan received mail. This practice raises an immediate concern about oversight: is someone present while they’re scanning the mail? Would they know if that person took a quick photo with their personal phone? 

We do not contract with any third parties to handle the mail. We have full control over all mail handling activities. 

Managing the mail handling process to ensure privacy 

A secure facility and well-trained employees won’t safeguard your privacy unless the virtual address service has security measures built into their processes. Without them, an employee could accidentally scan and send confidential information to the wrong person. 

Again, that’s why virtual address services that contract with local businesses raise such privacy concerns. Even without any intended wrongdoing, there are plenty of opportunities to create accidental data breaches. 

These privacy and security concerns are the reason we spent years perfecting a production line that includes barcode tracking and auditing at every step of the process — so accidents simply aren’t an option. 

This combination of secure facilities, vetted and trained employees, and sophisticated processes means we can feel confident ensuring our customers that their private and confidential information will remain so.

Questions to ask when choosing a virtual address service

If you’re in the process of choosing a virtual address service, these questions can help you determine whether the service provider you’re considering has security measures in place that will protect your private information.

  1. Is this service provider authorized by the USPS to receive postal mail?
  2. Do all employees who process mail undergo background checks?
  3. Is the facility that receives my mail monitored and restricted-access?
  4. Do any third parties handle my mail, either for processing or destruction?
  5. Does the service provider have a tracking system in place to audit mail processes?
  6. Will I be able to access a record of all the actions taken on each piece of my mail?

At Earth Class Mail, we take the responsibility of receiving mail seriously. And we have a great deal of respect for the customers that trust us to handle some of their most valuable assets — their personal and confidential information. 

And while we would love to provide a virtual address for everyone that needs one, we’re most concerned that anyone using a virtual address service knows their private information is safe. So even if you choose to use a different provider, make sure they’re following security best practices. Ask them the questions we’ve included here, and don’t turn over your postal mail to a company that isn’t 100% focused on protecting your information. 
Looking for a virtual address that gives you flexibility and security? Check out Earth Class Mail.

How Earth Class Mail is Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis

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By: Casey Shaeffer | VP of Operations | Earth Class Mail

Published April 27, 2020

As VP of Operations at Earth Class Mail, my last 8 weeks have been heavily focused on our response to COVID-19. I meet daily with my leadership team to monitor the situation, discuss any relevant developments, and make necessary adjustments to operations. 

We’re a technology company, but we’re human-driven, with teams working every day to deliver, open, scan, ship and deposit mail. Our offices remain open as an essential service, ensuring our customers across the country are able to continue doing business. 

Our COVID-19 response focuses on four major pillars: preserving the health of our staff, ensuring continuous service for our customers, maintaining consistency in our operation, and anticipating additional impacts. 

The health of our team

The health of our employees is our guiding priority. In accordance with social distancing protocols, any Earth Class Mail employee that is able to work from home is doing so. 

We are paying close attention to CDC guidelines. For those essential locations that require on-site work, we have created split shifts and increased sanitization protocols to minimize contact. We are providing assistance with ride-sharing alternatives for those employees dependent on public transportation.

In recognition of the essential service they are providing, we have increased wages for all our hourly employees. 

Business continuity for our customers

Every day, we process over $1 million in check deposits and thousands of mail documents, services our customers depend on to keep their businesses running smoothly.  

To continue meeting their needs, we have increased our operations staff and capacity so that we ensure continuity of service. We remain in constant contact with our vital business partners to understand their responses to COVID-19, and we communicate frequently with our customers to keep them informed of relevant developments. Through these efforts, we have been able to provide consistent service throughout the month. 

Consistency in mail processing operations

Our business is built on a refined process to get mail from the USPS, UPS, and FedEx; deliver it to a customer account; and get it opened, scanned, shipped, and deposited. 

As we work to keep our employees healthy and maintain service for our customers, we are modifying operations and making necessary spending cuts. Like every business responding to this crisis, we are finding inefficiencies that can be corrected without impacting our customers’ experience. 

Planning for the possible

None of us knows how the COVID-19 crisis may continue to impact our personal and business lives. The Earth Class Mail team is dealing with this uncertainty by preparing for the possibility of future business interruption. 

We are creating backup locations in Oregon and Texas and monitoring changes with the USPS, UPS, and FedEx daily to understand how their actions may impact our customers. We are also reviewing and testing all facets of our business continuity and disaster recovery plans, focusing on providing uninterrupted service for our customers.  

COVID-19 presents a challenge for us all. No matter what the future brings, we remain committed to our values, our customers, and our employees.