This free service alerts you when your stimulus check is in the mail. Here's how to use it

If the IRS' Get My Payment tracker app can't give you the status of your stimulus payment, the US Postal Service has a service that may be able to assist you. Called Informed Delivery, the free USPS tool can alert you when your post office is about to deliver your check in the mail. The IRS has only several million 2020 relief checks to send, so we can't blame you for starting to wonder when it's your turn.

The USPS tool automatically sends you a picture of the letter from the IRS with your coronavirus check within, so you know what to look out for and when it's coming. Signing up also lets you keep tabs on the letter's progress through notifications on your phone or computer.

Informed Delivery doesn't apply just to stimulus checks. The post office scanning tool documents all your mail, which of course includes your money from the government. There are some limitations to the system, but it does verify that the USPS processed your check and sent it to you, and you can cancel at any time.

Keep in mind that the post office can't tell you why you don't have stimulus payment yet and it doesn't replace the IRS portal for tracking your payment, which we like for its ability to give you a ballpark estimate of when your check might be on its way. (If you run into trouble with the tracker, here are 11 possible explanations why. And here are more reasons why your payment may be missing.)

Read on to learn how to use the USPS tool to see your stimulus check in the mail and brush up on the latest about the second stimulus check that's been proposed.

How to see your own personal mailbag

It can take three business days to activate your account after you set it up. Once it's live, you will receive an email each morning Monday through Saturday if mail is scheduled to arrive, notifying you of mail that will be delivered, along with a grayscale image of the front of the letter. You can also use the free Android and iPhone Informed Delivery app to be notified.

Am I definitely getting my stimulus check in the mail?

At this point, you're more likely to receive your money in the mail than in your bank account. That's because the IRS deadline to provide your direct deposit information passed on May 13.

The federal revenue agency said its focus is now on sending payments in the mail through the post office -- either as a paper check or as a prepaid debit card called the economic impact payment, or EIP, card. Read on to track your payment envelope in the mail.

Informed Delivery: Quickly check that you're eligible

When the USPS runs mail through its automated mail sorting equipment, it creates a digital image of the front of all letter-size mail, and that includes your stimulus check. The Informed Delivery program uses this digitally captured information to notify you when each piece of mail is on the way.

The service is available to many residential and personal P.O. box addresses but not businesses. It also won't work for some multiunit buildings where the Postal Service hasn't yet identified each unit.

Here's how to check whether it's available in your area:

1. Head to the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page and tap the Sign Up for Free button.

2. Enter your mailing address, and tap Continue.

If the service is available, you can continue to set up an account.

Set up the Informed Delivery service

Setting up your account is straightforward.

1. On the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page, tap Sign Up for Free.

2. After you enter your mailing address and confirm it'll work with the service, you'll need to accept the terms and conditions and tap Continue.

3. On the next page, choose your username, password and security questions. Then, enter your contact information and tap Continue.

4. On the next page, you'll need to verify your identity. Tap Verify identity online if you want to receive a verification code on your phone or tap Request invitation code by mail if you want the Postal Service to mail a code to you. If neither method works for you, may also be given the option to visit a post office to verify your identity in person.

For more on ordering and receiving packages during the coronavirus pandemic, here's how to find household goods when Amazon and other online stores are out of stock, how to order beer and wine online, and how long the virus can survive on packages.