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FBI Advisory

What to do with a suspicious letter or package

  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Title, but no name
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Oily stains, discoloration or odor
  • No return address
  • Excessive weight
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Visual distractions
  • Ticking sound
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as “Personal” or “Confidential”
  • Shows a city or state that does not match the return address.
  • Do not shake or empty the contents
  • Place the letter or package in a container, preferably a double zip lock plastic bag.
  • If no container is available, cover the item with anything (i.e. shirt, paper, can etc.) DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER.
  • Leave the room, close the door and prevent others from entering.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading to face.
  • If you are at home or at work, report the incident to local police department who will make other notifications and stay where you are.
  • Make a list of all people who were in the area and provide this list to first responders.

Powder spills out of envelope onto surface

  • Turn off fans and ventilation units to the area.
  • LEAVE area immediately.
  • Seal off the area and prevent others from entering.
  • Notify local police department.
  • Shut down air handling unit to building.
  • Provide a list of all personnel that was in the area to emergency personnel.

If you do come into contact with a powdery substance, first of all make sure that you are not in an area which contains sweet and low, sugar, paint chips, corn starch, ant eggs, etc. We have received several calls from individuals who claim that a powder came out of the envelope when it was opened. However, when the envelope was inspected, NO powder could be found.

First of all, if an incident does occur, do not panic. Anthrax can not be spread person to person. Anthrax must be rubbed into the skin, ingested or inhaled in a fine aerosolized mist. Early intervention with antibiotics is effective. For Anthrax to be effective as a covert agent it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This takes very special equipment and a high degree of technical skill to deploy the agent.

If you receive an unopened letter with a written threat

DO NOT TRY TO CLEAN UP THE POWDER. Cover spill with anything.
Leave room, prevent others from entering.

WASH hands with soap and water to prevent spreading to the face.

Notify local law enforcement.

Remove heavily contaminated clothing and place into a plastic bag that can be sealed, or some other sealed container. Clothing will be provided to emergency responders for proper handling.

SHOWER with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or any other disinfectant on your skin.

Provide a list of all individuals that were in the room with you to emergency personnel.


Contact FBI SA Rick Bell, (501) 221-9100 if you have any questions or concerns.

Source: Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga.

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