It’s pretty common to find someone else’s mail in your mailbox. Depending on the circumstances, a stranger’s letter can end up with you because of a wrong address, fault in delivery, or the package intended for a past tenant. Whatever the reason, figuring out what to do with the mail can be a head-scratcher.
So, what to do if you received someone else’s mail? You can deliver the mail to the correct address yourself, but the simplest one is to write ‘return to sender’ on the package, and your mail carrier will know what to do with it. The most important thing is never to throw the mail away.
What To Do If You Received Someone Else’s Mail?
What you do with the mail depends on who it belongs to. Whatever you do, never open or throw away the mail you receive.
Here’s what you can do when you receive someone else’s mail.
Deliver it yourself
If your neighbor’s address is written on the package, you can deliver it to them yourself. Just go there and place the package in their mailbox.
Don’t worry; there’s no penalty for doing that! If you know them or are comfortable talking to them, knock on their door and give it to them directly.
Leave a note and return the mail
If the address is incorrect and seems to be far away, you can use a sticky note to write “wrong address” or post it without sticking anything on it. The post office will get it delivered to the correct address.
Talk to your landlord
If the mail has your address but doesn’t belong to you, it may be intended for a past tenant. If you rent your house, you can easily contact your landlord.
They’ll have the current address of the tenant. You can correct the address on the package and post it. Make sure you write the address somewhere else in case you receive their mail again.
Return it to the sender
If you don’t want to seek out the correct receiver, you can do the simplest thing possible: just put a sticky note on the package and write “return to sender.”
Your mail carrier will return it to the address it came from. The sender will hopefully contact the correct receiver to get their address.
Can You Open A Mail That Isn’t Yours?
No. You may know that it’s illegal to open someone else’s mail.
Still, you need to understand that this is a serious matter with consequences. If you intentionally open, throw away or tamper with someone’s mail, it can be considered as a felony crime of mail theft.
You might have to deal with a fine of up to $250,000 as well as five years’ incarceration in federal prison.
What Should You Do If You Open Someone’s Mail By Accident?
Opening someone’s mail without knowing is completely fine. All you have to do is attach some tape on the area you ripped and leave a note saying ‘return to sender.’
The only thing you shouldn’t do is try to throw it away after opening. Trying to get rid of the evidence in fear of the consequences of accidentally opening it can lead to the penalties mentioned above.
It can seem like you’re hiding the mail on purpose.
What To Do If You Keep Getting Someone Else’s Mail?
You can deliver the mail if it gets sent to you once or twice, but you need to take some action if it keeps happening.
You can write ‘return to sender’ or ‘wrong address’ each time you get the package. However, the problem with this method is that the post office might just stop sending mail to you altogether.
It’s better that you talk to them so that they can communicate this problem to the sender or the correct receiver.
Should You Write On The Mail To Send It To The Correct Address?
Yes, you can write short notes or the correct address to get the mail carrier to send it to the person the mail was intended for.
Still, you shouldn’t write it directly on the package. The ink can bleed through the paper and damage the contents inside. This isn’t a risk you should be taking because the package can be carrying something important.
Instead, you can use a sticky note and stick it to the mail. You can also write the information on a simple piece of paper and attach it to the package with a paperclip.
This way, the ink won’t get on anything inside, and it’ll keep the mail safe. Then, you can post it and send it back.
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Can I Throw Away Mail That Is Not Mine?(Legally, No)
To sum up, if you get someone else’s mail, you can send it back to the sender, deliver it yourself or find the correct address and post the package.
You should never throw the mail away or open it as it can lead to serious punishments.
Martha had a chance to work for such major companies as USPS and FedEx, where she gained a lot of experience and learned quite a few nuances when it comes to handling mail and packages. Now she is a freelance writer who specializes in the logistics industry.