NHTSA mandates mailing labels to curb recall notices looking like junk mail

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it will require manufacturers to use new labels on recall notification mailings, as of February 18. In an effort to draw a clear distinction between a recall notice and a piece of junk mail, the very clear (though rather artless) design you see above will call out official NHTSA business.

The new label is a strike against "misleading sales and marketing materials that mimic ... legitimate safety recall alerts from manufacturers," says an official NHTSA press release. The agency plans to enlist the help of other Federal agencies, including the FTC, to both monitor and enforce the proper use of this new designation.

Long story short: if you see this graphic in your mailbox, don't throw it in the recycle bin.

The NHTSA press release also makes mention of an Android version of the agency's mobile app, as well (previously available for iOS devices only). You can find the details of that update, along with a bit more info about the new labels, in the official press release below.
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NHTSA Announces New Mandatory Label to Help Owners Instantly Identify Recall Mailings

Recall labels and new SaferCar App for Android are latest NHTSA efforts to raise recall awareness

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that starting February 18, all manufacturers must use a distinctive label on required mailings that notify owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. The requirement was introduced to help owners instantly distinguish important recall notices arriving in their mailboxes from other assorted correspondence and avoid mistakenly discarding critical safety notices.

"Recalls only work if consumers are aware of them," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This new label will allow consumers to quickly recognize recall notices mailed to their homes so they can act quickly to get their vehicles, child restraints, tires, or other motor vehicle equipment fixed."

The use of the new label is strictly limited to only the recalling manufacturers. This measure will help protect consumers from misleading sales and marketing materials that mimic, in their wording and presentation, legitimate safety recall alerts from manufacturers that can lead owners to purchase costly products and services that have no connection to a legitimate safety recall. As always, NHTSA will monitor for inappropriate materials and will work closely with state and other federal authorities, including the FTC, to address enforcement issues.

The new label on safety recall notices is one of many new tools designed to improve recall notification for consumers.

Today, NHTSA also launched an app for Android devices that will provide users free access to key safety information, including recalls and safety performance. The new Android SaferCar app, which joins the iOS app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch released last year, helps consumers find recall information and up-to-date vehicle safety information, search the agency's 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls, among other features.

The app makes it simple to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety problems with a particular vehicle. App users receive important news and information from NHTSA on tire and child seat recalls as well.

"NHTSA plays an important role in investigating potential safety defects, overseeing all safety recalls and warning the public of potential safety issues involving vehicles, car seats, tires and other equipment," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. "By providing new and convenient tools for consumers, we hope to empower owners to take action to ensure their vehicles and loved ones are safe."

Below are additional tools and tips from the nation's top auto safety agency:

Register Your Cars, Tires and Car Seats: Receive NHTSA email notifications when the manufacturer files the recall with the federal government. There is no way to locate or notify individual owners of car seats or tires if the product is not registered with the manufacturer or NHTSA.
Get Alerts Sent Directly to Your Phone: NHTSA's Safercar mobile app is available for both Apple devices and Android devices, or RSS feed sends recall information directly and conveniently to Android and iPhone users. It provides information on crash test ratings and child seat installation locations.
Check for Open Recalls on Used Cars: Verify with the previous owner or dealer whether or not a used car has been fixed. NHTSA's premier website,, provides a general search tool to help consumers identify recalls that may affect their vehicle. Later this year, VIN look-up will be available on the site when a new NHTSA mandate goes into effect making it easier for consumers to access this information.

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