Q&A on the News

Q: My small package, mailed from Arkansas to California in late February, is supposedly in Atlanta’s recovery center. It was supposed to be returned to me. I received an email saying lost mail is kept at the recovery center for 90 days. What happens to lost mail after that period? Is it opened or sold?

—Helen Thorne-Carroll, Hot Springs Village, Ark.

A: After 90 days, clerks at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta are authorized to open mail "in an effort to find information that will allow the item to be delivered or returned to the sender," U.S. Postal Service spokesman Michael Miles told Q&A on the News in an email.

“After the 90-day period, or after the claim has been paid, items are subject to auction,” he wrote. The 90-day period allows customers to contact their local post office or the Mail Recovery Center, which will initiate a search. The Mail Recovery Center receives mail that is undeliverable for a variety of reasons from postal facilities across the country, Miles wrote.

Q: General Motors has agreed to pay a $35 million fine. Where does that money go?

—Bob Furnad, Covington

A: Money from the fine, which was announced Friday, will go the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. The fine is the maximum allowed by law and the largest "civil penalty amount ever paid as a result of a (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) investigation of violations stemming from a recall." Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said GM broke the law by concealing defects in the ignition switches of some models.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).