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Blog May 28, 2021

Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents

Posted in How-to / By Jane Davis

How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents – What are Your Options?

The average number of letters sent each year in the USA is about 15 billion. And having the fact that 31 million Americans move each year, it’s no wonder we get to write on how to stop getting mail for previous residents. This problem is more common than you think and knowing what to do when you get mail from a previous resident is vital if you don’t want to have a lot of spam in your mailbox.

If you get a wrongly addressed letter one time, it’s ok. But if these problems continue to appear, this means that the post office doesn’t have an updated address. Resolving this issue can be challenging, but it can be done. Here are a couple of things you can do to stop receiving mail from the previous resident.

Why Do I Get Letters That Are Not Mine

As we mentioned earlier, Americans move a lot. An average American will relocate at least 11 times in their lifetime. Every relocation produces enormous moving stress to everyone, and changing address is one of the most commonly forgotten things to do when someone moves, having spent some time deciding where to live. There are so many things you need to do when relocating – you have to make a packing list and, of course, a moving checklist. If you decide not to hire movers, you will have to pack your electronics and your fragile items. If you are moving with kids, you’ll be knee-deep in packing kids’ toys and many other things. Having all that, it is understandable that people forget to change their address. And the consequence of that? They get other’s mail.

People think we don't use letters as we used to, so they forget about them, but the truth is far from it

First Step On How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents

You moved safely to your next house and, as a couple of days went by, you started to pile up someone else’s post. “How do I stop getting old tenants mail?” you are probably wondering. The first step you can take is to write “Not on this address” or “return to sender” on the envelope and return the letter to the outgoing mailbox.

Also, if you haven’t packed in a short time, you were probably using sticky notes or something else to label your boxes. If you don’t want to write on an envelope, you can write on a sticky note and put it on a letter. This should be enough for a sender to realize that that person moved. But if you are getting a lot of magazines and coupons, this may not be enough. The thing is, big businesses that usually send that kind of stuff deal with a lot of letters on a daily basis. If the letters return to them, it can take a couple of months before it’s filed. Luckily, there are other things you can do.

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Labeling Your Mailbox With Sticky Note Is Possibly the Best Method

If you receive a lot of mail and you don’t have enough time to stick a note or write on each letter, you can label your mailbox with a sticky note and write “Person (name and last name) doesn’t live here” or “it is not on this address anymore.” This way, your mailman will know not to leave you any more stuff for a former owner.

Inform Your Mailman About the Situation

Sometimes it’s best to deal with a problem in person. If you have relocated to a small town, you probably have already seen your mailman and talked to him. So tell them that you are receiving letters from a previous resident. Give them a pile of those letters so they can return them to a post office, and you’ll probably be free of stuff destined to your predecessor in residence.
After that, you can still get stuff from a different carrier or some businesses, but don’t worry. There is a solution to this problem as well.

Give all the letters that are not yours to your mailman

Cross a Barcode on the Letter

As you may already know, USPS is pretty much automated, and a lot of things are done digitally. This is why every letter has a specific barcode. Because of this, the whole process of delivery is more organized and the chances of mistakes are minimal. So if you keep receiving letters, even if you wrote “return to sender” and “not living here,” you should cross a barcode too. Do so, and a letter will be unreadable and it will raise a red flag that this has to be inspected.

Crossing of the barcode will attract more attention

File a Complaint to Your Local Post Office

How do I stop someone else’s mail from coming to my house? If you are still getting someone else’s letters after everything you have done, go to your local postal service and file an official complaint. If you’re asking what to do with mail from a previous tenant, the USPS mailman will know.

Tell them you are receiving letters from a former resident and give them everything that came to you. They will talk to their manager and the problem will be resolved. If your mailbox continues to be jammed with advertisements, coupons, or magazines, you should contact each company that is sending this and explain to them you don’t want to receive this post anymore. For more tips on this matter, check this video.

Things You Shouldn’t Do With Letters Addressed to Your Home

What to do if you get mail for a previous resident? Or to phrase this better, what not to do? As you may already be aware, messing around with other people’s mail is a federal offense, and you can pay a fine or even end up in jail. This is why all matters related to what to do with mail for a previous resident must be taken seriously.

Don’t Throw Anything Away

You are sick and tired of all the unwanted letters and other posts coming to your home, and you are probably tempted to throw everything away in a trash bag. If you wonder is it illegal to throw away someone else’s mail, the answer is yes, it is. If you intentionally or unintentionally destroy someone else’s letters, this will be considered a felony. You would be committing obstruction of correspondence.

According to law, not only that you are not allowed to destroy the letters, but you are obligated to make sure this person gets his package or letters. Therefore, you have to do whatever it takes to resolve this issue, or otherwise, you will be held responsible. If you don’t know where to keep all these papers, there are a couple of packing hacks long-distance movers use, you can implement. For example, buy a binder and put it all there. You probably have a lot of boxes left from your long-distance moving services and use some of them for storing unwanted letters.

Don’t Open Someone Else’s Mail

If you google “what to do with mails for previous resident USPS,” you’ll most likely find the golden rule regarding the matter – “opening someone else’s letters is illegal.” And it is great there is that rule. You wouldn’t want some else to open your letters either. But mistakes can happen and you might accidentally open a letter that is not yours. If that happens, don’t worry. Simply return the letters as they are.

Even if you already filed a complaint and nothing happened, you still don’t want to open or destroy someone else’s letters. You will have to insist on solving this problem one way or another. On the other hand, if you throw away coupons, flyers, and magazines – it is fine. But, if something looks like an important letter, keep it until this issue is resolved.

Don’t Go for a Change of Address

It can be tempting to just go online and file a change of address on behalf of a former tenant, especially if you know where they now live. But don’t do this either. This action will not solve your problem with USPS since the only thing you are allowed to share is your location. Sharing someone else’s information is illegal, and it is regulated under the provisions of the chapter on the disclosure of nonpublic personal information.
Again, if you don’t know what to do with mail from a previous tenant from USPS, the only thing you can do is to inform your postal service that you are the only one on that address and wait for this to be resolved.

Not even police can open your letters while they are in a mailbox

Prevent This Problem When You Are  Cross-Country Moving

Now that you learned the answers to the common questions – “What do I do if I receive someone else’s mail?” and “How to stop mail for previous residents,” it is time we talk about prevention from this happening to you. No matter what your reasons to move are or whether you are relocating with pets or alone, you will have to be prepared for a lot of stress and hard work. There are so many things you need to think about when relocating. You have to find a place to live, a new job, and arrange many other things. Here are some of the things you need to think about:

  • Finding an East Coast movers or West Coast movers – When long-distance moving, you will need to hire a long-distance moving company for their cross-country moving services. You will need someone to move your large items and other belongings. You can book packing services if you wish for professional cross-country movers to pack your silverware or if you don’t know how to pack your paintings. And last but not least, you should get an auto transport service for your vehicles.
  • Transfer your kids’ medical records – If you are relocating with family, and especially if you are relocating with a newborn, you will want to transfer your kids’ medical records to a new pediatrician before the time to move comes. This implies that you already found a pediatrician and that you already have an arrangement with them. But if you haven’t, ask your current pediatrician to give you a recommendation. On the other hand, if you are relocating while pregnant, you will have to transfer your medical files as well. Ask your doctor to do this transfer and give you a copy of your medical file to have them on you while traveling.
  • Transfer your utilities – This step is also important if you wish to have electricity, gas, and internet the day you arrive. You will have to call your service providers and tell them about your move. It would be best if you can do this one week before your relocation. Also, transfer or cancel all membership fees. This is something people usually forget to do, but the charges will keep on coming.
  • Change your address – To save someone time and money, it will be a “good citizen” thing if you change your address before your relocation. Not only that you will get your letters at your future house, but you will save new tenants a lot of trouble. This whole process is super easy and can be done online. All you have to do is to fill out the change of address form on the USPS website.

Of course, if you wish, you can always do this last step in person at your local USPS office. This way, new tenants at your old house will not have to worry and google “what to do with mail for a previous resident USPS.”

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