How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents – What Can Be Done?

June 15, 2021Moving Tips
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

If you’re trying to learn how to stop getting mail for previous residents, you’re in the right place. This mistake can happen, and it’s not that uncommon, but it can also be very irritating. If you’re dealing with somebody else’s letters and you’re trying to stop receiving mail from the previous resident, we’ve prepared a few easy things you can try to do and fix this issue.

You’ve bought all the packing materials for moving, learned all the relocation tips, used long-distance moving services, and started unpacking after a move. Suddenly, you realize that you’re still receiving letters and magazines from the person that lived there before you. So, what to do when you get mail for the previous resident? There are several methods you can try to solve this. If they’re living somewhere close, you can just go and talk to them, but if they’re not, you must figure out how to stop mail for previous residents.

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Before You Learn How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents, Keep in Mind That You Shouldn’t Throw it Away

In case you’re wondering is it illegal to throw away someone else’s mail, the answer is yes. It’s a federal crime, and you shouldn’t destroy it, hide, open, or steal it. The reason behind this is that someone can steal another person’s identity when receiving someone else’s confidential mail or cashing their checks. Even if you accidentally throw someone’s letters, you are breaking the law. There’s a fine and up to five years in jail for people that buy, receive, or conceal, or unlawfully have in possession somebody else’s letters. Avoid all trouble and collect all the letters that come to your home until you learn what to do with mail for the previous resident from USPS. Make sure you never open someone else’s mail – this is also a federal offense, and it could end up with serving up to five years in prison.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Somebody Else’s Mail in Your Box

You’ve just moved to a new state, and you have to deal with a bunch of stuff like all the things you need for your first apartment, or, for example, how to deal with neighbors that complain about everything, so a thing like this can cause stress. Try not to invest yourself that much into this problem, especially if you’re relocating to another state alone. We know you wanted a stress-free relocation, but this will be solved soon. Focus on more important things like making friends in a new city, and don’t worry about this. It’s easy to fix this problem.

USPS reaches every home, business office, and post office in the country, has more than 630,000 employees, and delivers almost 50% of the world’s mail, so a mistake here and there is completely understandable.

couple moving long distance
Concentrate on settling in instead of stressing over this solvable problem

What to Do With Mail for the Previous Resident? The First Step Is to Write on it That It’s Not Addressed to You

Maybe the former tenant had a last-minute move and had no time to learn how to move efficiently, so they made one of the most common relocating mistakes and forgot about changing their address. After all, it is one of the most common things you forget to do when you move.

The simplest thing you should and can do is to write “return to sender,” “not on this address,” or “moved” on the envelope and return the letter to the outgoing mail. The mailman working in your area will see that and notify the post office that the recipient isn’t living at the same address anymore. After that, they should update their records, and you won’t be receiving other people’s letters, bills, and magazines anymore.

The Thing That Can Also Be the Best Method for Learning How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents Is to Put a Note on Your Mailbox

If somebody’s letters continuously arrive at your address, put a note that that specific person or family doesn’t live there anymore. It can be a sticky note or a regular piece of paper that you can tape to the mailbox. List the names of people whose letters still come to your home and write that they’re not the residents anymore. Make the note very visible and protect it from rain, snow, and wind. You can do that by taping it with clear tape multiple times.

A girl writing a note to put it on a mailbox
Make a noticeable note that the former residents moved to another location

Another Answer to the Question What to Do If You Get Mail for the Previous Resident Is to Cross Out the Barcode That’s on the Envelope

Once you try to write “return to sender,” it should do the job. However, it can happen that this method fails. If you still don’t know what to do with mail from a previous tenant, the USPS barcode will help. Flip the letter and see if there’s a barcode. If there is, you should cross them out and return the letters back to the mailbox. The postal services use an automated system, and if there’s no human eye to register that you wrote that the former tenant moved, then no one will be informed that there’s a problem to be solved.

When you mark out the barcode, the system will know that the letter is undeliverable. After that, those letters must be hand-inspected, and they will notice that there’s an issue. To make all of this more understandable, here’s a video on how the USPS sorts out the mail they deliver.

YouTube video

How Do I Stop Someone Else’s Mail from Coming to My House? Try to File a Complaint to Your Mailman

Are you around when the postman delivers the mail? If you are, try to talk to them and inform them that you’re struggling with figuring out how to solve this. Feel free to ask them how do I stop getting old tenant’s mail now that they’re not at that address anymore. You can also tell them to quit giving you letters to people that don’t live there anymore. Don’t hesitate to file a formal complaint – it can be a very efficient method.

Mailman delivering letters to new tenants
Talk to the person delivering your letters and tell them what you’re dealing with

Try Finding Contact Info from the People That Used to Live in Your Home

You can also try to meet new neighbors and tell them what’s going on. They might have some contact information from the previous tenant and know whether they are now driving in Chicago, maybe they bought a family car and moved to the suburbs, or they’re dealing with Alaska car transport because they moved far north. That way, you can contact the person and inform them that they haven’t changed their place of residence.

However, you shouldn’t redirect the letters yourself and fill out the number of their home in the post office. You’d have to be an authorized officer, guardian, former resident, agent, or executor to have the power to file the change of number. In any other case, it would be a federal crime.

Two girls talking about former tenants while drinking coffee
Hop over to your neighbors and see if they can help you somehow

One of the Last Things You Can Try to Figure Out What Do I Do If I Receive Someone Else’s Mail Is to Contact the Companies That Send the Letters

If none of the above worked, then the only thing left is to directly contact the companies that are sending the letters or some other material. You can find their phone number on their website, or if there isn’t any, send them an email. Their PR service will answer your request to quit receiving other people’s magazines or newsletters about the most expensive cars in the world or any different topic. Who knows, if you like reading about the best imported cars, or you’re looking to get one of the best cars for city driving, you might even subscribe to that magazine.

Reach out to the companies that are sending the letters and inform them that their subscriber moved away

Don’t Make the Same Mistake

When relocating from one state to another, there are lots of things on your to-do list. If you started preparing for your move on time, then you had enough time to remember all that needs to be done. That includes learning all the moving scams, figuring out how to pack a relocation truck with the other moving hacks, and making a moving budget. Part of that is also knowing how much it costs to ship a car, which car shipping company you should hire, and which one is better – door-to-door auto transport or terminal-to-terminal car shipping. Be wise and learn all there is about open trailer shipping and enclosed auto transport before you call an auto transport company. Make sure you’re well informed about everything, including how to register your car in a new state and how to prepare a car for shipping. With good preparation like this, you won’t make any mistakes when it comes to car shipping and household goods relocation, and you’ll remember to fill out the form for change of address as soon as you finish the where should I move quiz. Help everyone when moving, and inform all the institutions and important people that you moved.

How to Change Your Address Before You Relocate?

Before you read all the car shipping FAQs and call a company to get long-distance moving services and auto transport, be sure your letters aren’t causing problems for someone else. Here’s what you need to do – go to the USPS website and fill out the Movers Guide for the change of address. You will see several very simple forms with your personal information that have to be filled out. After that, choose a payment option for the $1.05 charge since you finished this online. You can also go to the nearest post office and finish this that way. If you have a tight timeline, keep in mind that this method will take a bit longer.

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