Postal Service ‘welcome kit’ raises questions; White House now cites Privacy Act

by Jim McElhatton, The Washington Times  |  published on March 7, 2013

The White House has secretly questioned the U.S. Postal Service about whether its change of address “welcome kit” program used by tens of millions of Americans violates the federal Privacy Act.

Despite telling The Washington Times that it had no such records, the White House Office of Management and Budget made inquiries into the Postal Service’s MoversSource program, which is managed under a 10-year, exclusive contract with Pitney Bowes Inc. subsidiary Imagitas, according to internal emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The federal Privacy Act bars agencies from selling or renting personal information, including names and addresses. Through Imagitas, the Postal Service uses information it collects from people who filled out change-of-address forms to send an official-looking MoversGuide welcome kit filled mostly with advertising and coupons from companies selling cellphones, insurance, home security, mattresses and lots of other move-related products and services.

The Postal Service and Imagitas split the ad revenue. Both say their arrangement is perfectly legal.

In a previous statement to The Times, the Postal Service said it does not sell or rent name and address information and that its program “is well within the Postal Service’s legal authority.”

The OMB inquiry to the Postal Service came just days after privacy specialists in 2011 raised questions about the program in The Times.

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