What are the benefits of giving out an address that isn't yours?
April 26, 2019 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I know someone, a profligate liar, who has on several occasions put in the addresses of people known to them for things like parking tickets or medical services, so that the resident receives mail at that address under this person's name. What kind of benefits might they get from doing this, as opposed to using their own address or a fake address or an address that exists but isn't connected to somebody they know?

This person has an address they live at and this behavior isn't coordinated or communicated in advance and they have no guarantee the resident would be willing to give the mail to them or even mention that the mail arrived. These addresses are places they have never lived.

Are there any risks the resident of the address should be worried about from this behavior? Is the best course of action just return to sender?
posted by foxfirefey to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"I never got it so it's obviously not real. That's not my address! That's fraud! Erase my ticket/bill immediately or I'll report you for fraud!"

It's a way to try to get out of paying for things. It's fraud.

You should report it to your local Postal Inspector.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2019 [17 favorites]

Address is often used to resolve a name into a unique identity. Using the wrong address may succeed in confusing automatic systems enough to prevent them from connecting these events to the liar's true identity. Using a valid wrong address will pass filters that check for address validity. Using an acquaintance's address has the added benefit that the well-meaning acquaintance will assume that some kind of database mistake has been made and will forward mail to the liar if it looks important.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

It makes it approximately 400% harder to serve a warrant and increases the chances the authorities are not going to put in the effort to do so by a factor of about a billion.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:40 PM on April 26, 2019 [18 favorites]

Some people are scammy assholes. They might not be scamming in the moment, but like to keep that option open for the future.

-Do you have proof of address?
-Sure! (pulls out old bill)
posted by betweenthebars at 2:47 PM on April 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

The OP is specifically asking about using the address of an acquaintance, not a fake address in general.
posted by FencingGal at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

I guess sending it to an acquaintance means you could probably get it if you wanted it, while making it that much hard for bill collectors to hunt you down.
posted by praemunire at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

It seems likely that this practice developed out of some logic that makes sense to the perpetrator, but is probably based on some false premises and would not hold up to examination by a third party.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2019 [39 favorites]

Maybe it's just easier to remember an acquaintance's address than to invent a plausible fake one. (And in a parking ticket or medical situation it may not be possible to take the time to look up a random real one.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2019 [9 favorites]

When I get mail that's not mine, I try to contact the sender and tell them that the person they are intending to reach doesn't live at this address, and return to sender. If someone had their mail routed to me intentionally and/or did it more than once, I would probably contact the post office and see if they can do anything about it. If it was an acquaintance, I would probably tell the person to never use my address again as long as I didn't think they were crazy/I wasn't scared of them, and either way I would certainly stop associating with them. That's strange and sketchy behavior.

I am not aware of an actual risk to the person receiving it - you can't be responsible for someone else using your address - but it could maybe lead to annoying unwanted contact. For instance, I have a friend, let's say Betty Jones, who routinely gets bill collection calls for a Barbara Jones, who went by "B. Jones" and didn't maintain accurate records. My friend has tried to get off the call list, but bill collectors seem to just call anyone named B. Jones in that same area. To be on the safe side, if it was bills or parking tickets, I would go out of my way to show that this wasn't wanted mail and I had nothing to do with it, which is a hassle.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:18 PM on April 26, 2019

It lets the friends know this person is an asshat.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:34 PM on April 26, 2019 [24 favorites]

Would end up in databases of adresses (e.g. on credit reports) obscuring which address is the real address. Using any "real" address would have this benefit though.
posted by salvia at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2019

Nthing everyone who's saying this is to avoid skip tracing. Similar to why some people frequently change their phone numbers.

Why this person is trying to avoid being traced changes the risk to the acquaintance. If it's the kind of thing where a process server may get involved, it's a gigantic pain to have a process server harassing people at your home not believing that none of you know the whereabouts of the person they're looking for.

Would end up in databases of adresses (e.g. on credit reports) obscuring which address is the real address. Using any "real" address would have this benefit though.

I'd harbor a guess that the sorts of people who would do this are also too avoidant to have ever pulled a copy of their credit report to fully understand that.
posted by blerghamot at 6:44 PM on April 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, another possibility is school enrollment fraud, if the school of the fraudster's choice doesn't need to see a lease or property tax bill associated with Fraudster Jr.'s address. Using someone else's address to get your kid into a school outside their catchment area is usually a con that everyone involved is in on, but if you're dealing with a school board that doesn't need to see proof of ownership/renting, all you may need is one carefully misdirected cell phone bill...
posted by blerghamot at 7:53 PM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Specifically, in the cases you mention, which are medical bills and parking tickets this would allow you to not pay the bill, and later claim the bill was not yours. If this doesn't work, you can legitimately avoid additional fees by claiming you never received the bill. In other words, he's not planning on paying these bills / tickets.

For instance, if pulled over by a cop, you can claim the ticket isn't yours (e.g. can you check the address on that ticket? That's not me. That's some other Joe Blow). If the cop doesn't buy this, in court you can claim you didn't know about the ticket, because it was never delivered to yo, and therefore additional fees don't apply.

Alternately, if the mail is returned to him, he can use it to establish a new identity or legally establish his acquaintance's address as his own. He can claim access to services in that area. He can use this legal address to avoid the law. He can use it for tax scams.
posted by xammerboy at 10:51 AM on April 27, 2019

A neighbor of mine in Manhattan had all his...adult implements...sent to the building under my name. (Gee, thanks.)

He'd grab them before I got home, in general. Except for the one time when I was there when the mail delivery person dropped off half of a lucite pump that I had definitely not ordered.

I quickly figured out he was the culprit when I caught him skulking around my doorway, looking to see if anything had been delivered that he couldn't see from his own apartment door.

He had a roommate, and I suspect he just didn't want the roommate to open one of the boxes to get a big surprise.
posted by yellowcandy at 5:41 PM on April 27, 2019

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