Not at this address?
August 10, 2008 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Over the last couple of weeks, I have started to receive mail (US, snail) addressed to people who do not live at my address. We are the third owners of our house, and the names appearing on the envelopes are not previous residents. The names are not local neighbors either. I have not yet received a duplicate name. I suppose this could be some odd coincidence, but in the entire time we've lived here, apart from the odd mail to previous residents, I haven't had mail like this. The stuff I'm getting ranges from marketing junk to forms that someone must have requested from the IRS. Its not a flood of mail- I've seen three pieces in the last two weeks, but the IRS piece has me a little spooked, and has set off alarm bells. This smells a bit like someone laying the groundwork for ID theft- either mine, or someone elses. Should I be concerned?
posted by taubman to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
is your mailbox accessible from the outside? there have been cases of scammers opening up acounts using such addresses and having ups later leave packages on the porch that they then picked up themselves. you are right, this could be just a coincidence but it could also be more and you should be looking out.

I would suggest monitoring your credit report every month (there are subscription sites like that work pretty well). placing a fraud alert can freeze your credit history for a few months up to a few years. consider browsing the credit boards and fatwallet forum to see if similar cases have popped up there in the past.
posted by krautland at 6:09 AM on August 10, 2008

Well, it could be worse.

Are you sending the stuff back to the Post Office? Write "Addressee Does Not Live Here" and leave it in the mail box for the mail man to pick up. Let the post office deal with it.
posted by JJ86 at 7:06 AM on August 10, 2008

I don't know if you should be concerned but it seems like it would be worthwhile to try Googling your address to see what comes up.
posted by XMLicious at 7:50 AM on August 10, 2008

Perhaps it´s a prank, or someone whose idea of ¨revenge´ is for you to get a bunch of junk mail that will worry you?
posted by yohko at 7:54 AM on August 10, 2008

Talk to your post master (your mail carrier probably can't help) - he or she (or their office) can check into through official channels. They also increasingly have id-theft resources they can tap.
posted by wfrgms at 7:56 AM on August 10, 2008

Do send the mail back, clearly marked "Unknown Addressee". You won't have to put any postage on this; just drop it into a mailbox.

That being said, its important to keep records of mail received and sent back. By whom it was sent, to whom it was addressed, and the dates.

I had a nasty case of ID theft here in London. Someone started got my details and opened accounts but the cards were always sent to a "work" address. Shortly after I learned of this fraud, mail to other names who had never lived at my address started arriving (I purchased my flat in 2001 from the Estate of an English woman who had lived here since the early 70's so there was no way they'd ever resided here).

What started out as a trickle over the next three months or so turned into a flood of false names, all directed to my address. The letters became increasingly frequent and strident as judged by the words ("URGENT") and colours (red) used on the envelopes. Once Recorded Mail (requiring a signature) started showing up addressed to the fraudsters I started taking this seriously, and made notes.

Later, when letters to "The Resident" arrived asking for confirmation that the fraudsters didn't reside at my address I had evidence that these banks had been made aware ongoing fraud. I could point out that multiple letters had been returned over a period of several months. Further, I made sure the banks knew that I knew they'd never performed even the most basic of credit checks, as none of the false names had ever been registered in the electoral roll at my address - something that can be freely confirmed via the internet (

Another point that really pissed me off - the banks involved kept asking me for my name, and wanted me to sign an affidavit that I wasn't the individuals named. I refused, noting I'd never had an account relationship with the firms in question.

This all started back in October 2005, and it took about one year to mitigate. I last received mail addressed to "The Resident" perhaps six months ago. Apparently the bad debt has been sold a couple of times now, and they're still trying to collect.

So send it back, but definitely keep detailed notes. I think it gave me a lot of leverage with the banks once they started fishing about for someone to take a hit for the bad debts.
posted by Mutant at 8:36 AM on August 10, 2008 [7 favorites]

Might you try calling the IRS and asking what gives? It sets off alarm bells in my mind, too. The innocent explanation is that they've got the wrong address, but that's something they ought to know, too. Here is a list of ways to contact them.
posted by fogster at 10:40 AM on August 10, 2008

Here's more information about Fed-approved free credit reporting.

Every U.S. citizen should be taking advantage of this annual free service.
posted by Ky at 11:00 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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