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First off, this does not truly belong in FWF.
However, the reason I am posting this here is because there have been many many posts/responses in FW FINANCE that claim that if you open a letter with your address but someone else name on it that you are committing a federal offense.
Since this comes up repeatedly in FWF I thought it might be useful to have a discussion and set the record straight in the FWF Forum


I maintain that it is NOT a federal offense to open mail delivered to your address regardless of the name on the letter.

You are permitted to open anything the USPS Delivers to your address.
The USPS will deliver mail to your address regardless of the name on the letter and will do so even if there is no name (just the address) on the letter.

Also, if the USPS were to inadvertently deliver your neighbors mail to your mailbox you would not be in violation of the law should you open it.
You have not impeded the delivery of the mail if you open items that the USPS has already placed in your mailbox.
However in such circumstances, common courtesy dictates that you then either give it to your neighbor or the mail person with a note that it was delivered to the wrong address and accidentally opened.

If anyone can point to the law that forbids opening mail already delivered to your address I would be happy to be educated and apologize.

Member Summary
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I really, really dislike the work HATE.

jimates (Jul. 01, 2010 @ 9:32p) |

Yup, me too. No one says "state offense." The appropriate term is "federal crime." No prosecutor or person otherwise inf... (more)

RightPatriot (Jul. 02, 2010 @ 7:02a) |

That would make a great name for a beer...

"Yup, I just downed me a 6-pack of Schwetty Balls...hic!"

It could even come in... (more)

NotSoHard (Jul. 02, 2010 @ 3:51p) |

Quick Summary is created and edited by users like you... Add FAQ's, Links and other Relevant Information by clicking the edit button in the lower right hand corner of this message.
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Just put it into the shredder (whether before or after you read it, depends on your own morals and what not).

If the postal service can not ensure the privacy of mail, I am not going to be in the business of ensuring that.

It depends on the type of mail and what the opener does with it.

Zuke76 said: It depends on the type of mail and what the opener does with it.Can you provide more detail?

US v. Coleman, 196 F. 3d 83 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1999
2nd Circuit said: The courts of appeals agree that 1708 covers mail that the Postal Service has accidentally delivered to an address other than the one on the envelope (misdelivered mail). However, there is a split among the circuits over whether 1708 extends to mail that is delivered to the address on the envelope but to a person other than the specified recipient (misaddressed mail). The credit card statement in this case was addressed to Ms. Bosch at her prior address, an apartment then occupied by Coleman, and so falls into the category of misaddressed mail.[1] The Third and Fifth Circuits have ruled that 1708 covers misdelivered, but not misaddressed, mail, on the theory that the authority of the Postal Service ends once the letter has been delivered to the address on the envelope. See United States v. Lavin, 567 F.2d 579, 583 (3d Cir.1977); United States v. Davis, 461 F.2d 83, 89-90 (5th Cir.1972). The Ninth Circuit has ruled that 1708 covers misdelivered mail, but covers misaddressed mail only if a change of address form has been filed with the Postal Service by the intended recipient of the mail. See United States v. Anton, 547 F.2d 493, 495 & n. 2 (9th Cir.1976); United States v. Birnstihl, 441 F.2d 368, 369 (9th Cir.1971) (per curiam). Finally, the Seventh and Tenth Circuits have ruled, and the First Circuit has implicitly concluded, that 1708 extends to both misdelivered and misaddressed mail. See United States v. Palmer, 864 F.2d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 1988); United States v. Douglas, 668 F.2d 459, 461 & n. 3 (10th Cir.1982); see also 86*86 United States v. Indelicato, 611 F.2d 376, 384 (1st Cir.1979).

So, it would appear that it is illegal to opened misdelivered mail anywhere in the US.
Since the Supreme Court has not yet resolved the conflicts among the circuits (as far as I can tell), it would appear that opening misaddressed mail would be a crime depending upon what circuit the misaddressed mail was opened in.

Feel free to peruse the citations to find examples of people who have been convicted for opening misaddressed/misdelivered mail.

mikeres said: Zuke76 said: It depends on the type of mail and what the opener does with it.Can you provide more detail?

Well,
What are you opening (bills, junk mail, credit card apps, etc) and what are you doing with it...

I once got mail Addressed to the same last name, and the correct address. Upon opening it, I found it was a third late notice for a vehicle payment in my cousin's name (with aunt as cosigner).

I called my aunt (a REAL piece of work), to inform her that I had mail for her son. She said mail it over to her. I said it seems urgent, would you like me to fax it to you? SHE SCREAMED "You opened mail that wasn't addressed to you???"

I said NO, I received mail at MY address, with the SAME address and SAME last name on it... so it is MINE.

She starts threatening lawsuits for opening other people's mail... and I said "go for it"... and told her that the call never happened and and she'd have a tough time in court (how could she explain it?).

She calmed down, and asked for the letter... I said "What letter?" and then told her to tell her deadbeat son that I was gonna kick his ass if he EVER used my address again, then hung up.

That was 10 years ago and we haven't spoken since... but her son has been in and out of jail 3 or 4 times!

lastgaspjr said: So, it would appear that it is illegal to opened misdelivered mail anywhere in the US.
Since the Supreme Court has not yet resolved the conflicts among the circuits (as far as I can tell), it would appear that opening misaddressed mail would be a crime depending upon what circuit the misaddressed mail was opened in.

Feel free to peruse the citations to find examples of people who have been convicted for opening misaddressed/misdelivered mail.
LastGasp - thank you for the citations and your explanation.

So if mail that is addressed to my neighbor (or to a stranger) ends up in my mailbox (i.e., misdelivered mail) it would be illegal for me to open it.

However if mail that is addressed to anyone other than my household (but with my address) is delivered to my mailbox (i.e., misaddressed mail) it may or may not be a federal violation - depending on within which Circuit Courts' jurisdiction I reside.

Since you brought up a USPS topic, I would like to ask you a question that also has to do with the mail service, but not your specific topic:

What if your neighbor can't order rx from Canada and uses my address but their last name to have rx delivered? (both spouses use the same rx but only one per address is allowed)Would that put me in some kind of violation because my address is being used?

Mailman seems nervous about it, neighbor thinks it should be fine, me? I want to help, but not to the point that it will land me in legal trouble.

Awaiting any expert answers.

PEACE

freelance said: Since you brought up a USPS topic, I would like to ask you a question that also has to do with the mail service, but not your specific topic:

What if your neighbor can't order rx from Canada and uses my address but their last name to have rx delivered? (both spouses use the same rx but only one per address is allowed)Would that put me in some kind of violation because my address is being used?

Mailman seems nervous about it, neighbor thinks it should be fine, me? I want to help, but not to the point that it will land me in legal trouble.

Awaiting any expert answers.

PEACE
Why can't your neighbors order from two different Canadian pharmacies and use their own address?

If the drugs being delivered to your address are deemed illegal in the US (e.g., heroin, cocaine, narcotics without a valid prescription, etc), or if the packages delivered to you house contain any illegal contraband you could end up in a heap of trouble.

My understanding is any rx fill from Canada (even personal use) is illegal. Has this changed?

gwu1986 said: My understanding is any rx fill from Canada (even personal use) is illegal. Has this changed?To the best of my knowledge you are correct.
However it is also my understanding that US Customs will not divert or confiscate prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies that are for personal use.

So the short answer is yes it's illegal, but the government looks the other way (for now).

I'll let you know for sure once I receive my order which I expect to place within the next few days.

If I open mail, incorrectly delivered to my address, where do I turn myself in?

Have them get a PO box for this kind of thing.

They shouldn't ask you to get involved in something that is not legal (if it's not legal to get prescriptions from Canada) and which makes the postman nervous.


freelance said: Since you brought up a USPS topic, I would like to ask you a question that also has to do with the mail service, but not your specific topic:

What if your neighbor can't order rx from Canada and uses my address but their last name to have rx delivered? (both spouses use the same rx but only one per address is allowed)Would that put me in some kind of violation because my address is being used?

Mailman seems nervous about it, neighbor thinks it should be fine, me? I want to help, but not to the point that it will land me in legal trouble.

Awaiting any expert answers.

PEACE

How can i profit from this?

mikeres said: First off, this does not truly belong in FWF.
However, the reason I am posting this here is because there have been many many posts/responses in FW FINANCE that claim that if you open a letter with your address but someone else name on it that you are committing a federal offense.
Since this comes up repeatedly in FWF I thought it might be useful to have a discussion and set the record straight in the FWF Forum


I maintain that it is NOT a federal offense to open mail delivered to your address regardless of the name on the letter.

You are permitted to open anything the USPS Delivers to your address.
The USPS will deliver mail to your address regardless of the name on the letter and will do so even if there is no name (just the address) on the letter.

Also, if the USPS were to inadvertently deliver your neighbors mail to your mailbox you would not be in violation of the law should you open it.
You have not impeded the delivery of the mail if you open items that the USPS has already placed in your mailbox.
However in such circumstances, common courtesy dictates that you then either give it to your neighbor or the mail person with a note that it was delivered to the wrong address and accidentally opened.

If anyone can point to the law that forbids opening mail already delivered to your address I would be happy to be educated and apologize.
What if you go to your neighbor's mailbox remove a first class letter and open it? Have you impeded the delivery of mail? If yes, specifically how? I would accept an answer of "yes" but the same is true when you intentionally open a wrongly delivered mail to you.

katx said: mikeres said: First off, this does not truly belong in FWF.
However, the reason I am posting this here is because there have been many many posts/responses in FW FINANCE that claim that if you open a letter with your address but someone else name on it that you are committing a federal offense.
Since this comes up repeatedly in FWF I thought it might be useful to have a discussion and set the record straight in the FWF Forum


I maintain that it is NOT a federal offense to open mail delivered to your address regardless of the name on the letter.

You are permitted to open anything the USPS Delivers to your address.
The USPS will deliver mail to your address regardless of the name on the letter and will do so even if there is no name (just the address) on the letter.

Also, if the USPS were to inadvertently deliver your neighbors mail to your mailbox you would not be in violation of the law should you open it.
You have not impeded the delivery of the mail if you open items that the USPS has already placed in your mailbox.
However in such circumstances, common courtesy dictates that you then either give it to your neighbor or the mail person with a note that it was delivered to the wrong address and accidentally opened.

If anyone can point to the law that forbids opening mail already delivered to your address I would be happy to be educated and apologize.
What if you go to your neighbor's mailbox remove a first class letter and open it? Have you impeded the delivery of mail? If yes, specifically how? I would accept an answer of "yes" but the same is true when you intentionally open a wrongly delivered mail to you.
You haven't impeded it, but you probably are guilty some other federal postal offence.

On another side note, some of the folks who walk around and deliver the monthly neighborhood newsletter, were putting them in mailboxes (so they wouldn't get wet from the rain on) -- our neighborhood association got a very official nasty-gram from the post office with threats of per-infraction fines and possible jail time!!

Apparently, one of the letter carriers in the neighborhood is a real stickler for rules

Added: OMG! That was my 3K post!

Crap, I wanted it to be something spectacular - R/T to Paris for $300, a 60" 240Hz, 5 lbs, flatscreen for $100 (with free shipping and no rebate), or something.

For some reason it really annoys me when people say "federal offense."

I'm just sayin...

The USPS rules probably changed. I remember when they would not deliver mail addressed to a specified person at a specified address unless that person was verified as living at that address.

If you went to spend a month with your relative, they had to go to the post office (or the carrier) and direct them to deliver mail addressed to that person to your address.

Technologist said: I once got mail Addressed to the same last name, and the correct address. Upon opening it, I found it was a third late notice for a vehicle payment in my cousin's name (with aunt as cosigner).

I called my aunt (a REAL piece of work), to inform her that I had mail for her son. She said mail it over to her. I said it seems urgent, would you like me to fax it to you? SHE SCREAMED "You opened mail that wasn't addressed to you???"

I said NO, I received mail at MY address, with the SAME address and SAME last name on it... so it is MINE.

She starts threatening lawsuits for opening other people's mail... and I said "go for it"... and told her that the call never happened and and she'd have a tough time in court (how could she explain it?).

She calmed down, and asked for the letter... I said "What letter?" and then told her to tell her deadbeat son that I was gonna kick his ass if he EVER used my address again, then hung up.

That was 10 years ago and we haven't spoken since... but her son has been in and out of jail 3 or 4 times!


That's what dried up old hags do for fun, blame everyone else for their problems.

Don't open mail that is not addressed to you. Return it to the mail carrier.

katx said: mikeres said: First off, this does not truly belong in FWF.
However, the reason I am posting this here is because there have been many many posts/responses in FW FINANCE that claim that if you open a letter with your address but someone else name on it that you are committing a federal offense.
Since this comes up repeatedly in FWF I thought it might be useful to have a discussion and set the record straight in the FWF Forum


I maintain that it is NOT a federal offense to open mail delivered to your address regardless of the name on the letter.

You are permitted to open anything the USPS Delivers to your address.
The USPS will deliver mail to your address regardless of the name on the letter and will do so even if there is no name (just the address) on the letter.

Also, if the USPS were to inadvertently deliver your neighbors mail to your mailbox you would not be in violation of the law should you open it.
You have not impeded the delivery of the mail if you open items that the USPS has already placed in your mailbox.
However in such circumstances, common courtesy dictates that you then either give it to your neighbor or the mail person with a note that it was delivered to the wrong address and accidentally opened.

If anyone can point to the law that forbids opening mail already delivered to your address I would be happy to be educated and apologize.
What if you go to your neighbor's mailbox remove a first class letter and open it? Have you impeded the delivery of mail? If yes, specifically how? I would accept an answer of "yes" but the same is true when you intentionally open a wrongly delivered mail to you.


IANAL...

But not "Impeded"... but "Theft of mail"

Thanks for the answers. They won't be using my address. RX is for allergies and they only deliver one order per address. They order from Canada but it comes from England. I don't know enough about it, but I'll stay out of it.

PEACE

Substitute mail carriers for my route sometimes deliver mail addressed to other people at other addresses AND mail addressed to my house in other names. I never know when there's a substitute carrier and tend to just turn the mail over and open all the envelopes at one time. In one case my address was on a medical bill under the name of a neighbor across the street. I took it over there and told them I'd opened it in error. A couple weeks later I got a second notice for that same bill. This time I called the medical clinic to advise them of the address error. They wouldn't take any information from me since I wasn't the patient. I put a note on the envelope with the correct address and left it for the carrier to redeliver. This has since happened two more times.

mikeres said: First off, this does not truly belong in FWF.
However, the reason I am posting this here is because there have been many many posts/responses in FW FINANCE that claim that if you open a letter with your address but someone else name on it that you are committing a federal offense.
Since this comes up repeatedly in FWF I thought it might be useful to have a discussion and set the record straight in the FWF Forum


I maintain that it is NOT a federal offense to open mail delivered to your address regardless of the name on the letter.

You are permitted to open anything the USPS Delivers to your address.
The USPS will deliver mail to your address regardless of the name on the letter and will do so even if there is no name (just the address) on the letter.

Also, if the USPS were to inadvertently deliver your neighbors mail to your mailbox you would not be in violation of the law should you open it.
You have not impeded the delivery of the mail if you open items that the USPS has already placed in your mailbox.
However in such circumstances, common courtesy dictates that you then either give it to your neighbor or the mail person with a note that it was delivered to the wrong address and accidentally opened.

If anyone can point to the law that forbids opening mail already delivered to your address I would be happy to be educated and apologize.


^ ^ ^ this is the best explanation. to me it sounds like your neighbors are using your address in an attempt to defraud a company. i would not call the company doing the billing - it is not your problem and after you realize the mail is not yours, put it back in its envelope and don't get further involved. either walk it over to the neighbor or contact the postal inspectors about your neighbor using your address w/ their name as that would be the fraud and the postal inspectors aren't too keen on that type of action. https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

stlite said: Substitute mail carriers for my route sometimes deliver mail addressed to other people at other addresses AND mail addressed to my house in other names. I never know when there's a substitute carrier and tend to just turn the mail over and open all the envelopes at one time. In one case my address was on a medical bill under the name of a neighbor across the street. I took it over there and told them I'd opened it in error. A couple weeks later I got a second notice for that same bill. This time I called the medical clinic to advise them of the address error. They wouldn't take any information from me since I wasn't the patient. I put a note on the envelope with the correct address and left it for the carrier to redeliver. This has since happened two more times.

You can mark the mail as return to sender and drop in any mail box.

I got a Sprint bill for someone else addressed to my house for 20 years. I debated opening it and calling the number on the bill or calling Sprint and try to talk to CS. I figured that Sprint wouldn't want to talk to me since I wasn't the account holder. I didn't want to have an awkward conversation with the person it was addressed to. I just returned to sender. Next month did the same thing. Figured he would get his phone turned off and call Sprint.

lastgaspjr said: US v. Coleman, 196 F. 3d 83 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1999
...

So, it would appear that it is illegal to opened misdelivered mail anywhere in the US.
Since the Supreme Court has not yet resolved the conflicts among the circuits (as far as I can tell), it would appear that opening misaddressed mail would be a crime depending upon what circuit the misaddressed mail was opened in.

Feel free to peruse the citations to find examples of people who have been convicted for opening misaddressed/misdelivered mail.


As I read that, it doesn't cover _opening_ the mail per se. You have to "steal, take or abstract (?) (or by fraud or deception obtain ...". In that case, the fellow kept a bill addressed to another person, albeit at his address. If you inadvertently open something in the pile of mail you get every day, I don't think that violates the statute on its face. Just return it. But if you keep it once you realize it's not yours, apparently another story.

frenchylarue said: lastgaspjr said: US v. Coleman, 196 F. 3d 83 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1999

As I read that, it doesn't cover _opening_ the mail per se. You have to "steal, take or abstract (?) (or by fraud or deception obtain ...". In that case, the fellow kept a bill addressed to another person, albeit at his address. If you inadvertently open something in the pile of mail you get every day, I don't think that violates the statute on its face. Just return it. But if you keep it once you realize it's not yours, apparently another story.


Here is a quote:
Coleman argues that it is inappropriate to place upon the unintended recipient the burden of returning a misaddressed letter to the Postal Service. As noted above, the courts of appeals agree that the unintended recipient of a misdelivered letter bears that burden.

Nothing about opening, just says you have to return it.

However, that case appears to deal only with Section 1708, and there is language in the opinion suggesting Section 1702 may be broader and deal with interference with the mail before it reaches its intended recipient. (Looks like Coleman was generally a bad dude and they threw the book at him, read the beginning of the case to get his background ... and where they are going with the decision.) Anyone want to take a stab at 18 USC 1702?

Write UTF or ANK on the envelope if it is addressed correctly and not yours

unable to foreward
attempted not known

I use my neighbors address with my daughters name for rebates. The carrier sees the name and puts it in my box even though it has the neighbors address on it. Just the last digit is one number difference (3 vs 2) so it looks like a basic typo.

Technologist said: I once got mail Addressed to the same last name, and the correct address. Upon opening it, I found it was a third late notice for a vehicle payment in my cousin's name (with aunt as cosigner).

I called my aunt (a REAL piece of work), to inform her that I had mail for her son. She said mail it over to her. I said it seems urgent, would you like me to fax it to you? SHE SCREAMED "You opened mail that wasn't addressed to you???"

I said NO, I received mail at MY address, with the SAME address and SAME last name on it... so it is MINE.

She starts threatening lawsuits for opening other people's mail... and I said "go for it"... and told her that the call never happened and and she'd have a tough time in court (how could she explain it?).

She calmed down, and asked for the letter... I said "What letter?" and then told her to tell her deadbeat son that I was gonna kick his ass if he EVER used my address again, then hung up.

That was 10 years ago and we haven't spoken since... but her son has been in and out of jail 3 or 4 times!

I love it...You da man, thanks for a good story!

jimates said: I use my neighbors address with my daughters name for rebates. The carrier sees the name and puts it in my box even though it has the neighbors address on it. Just the last digit is one number difference (3 vs 2) so it looks like a basic typo.
What a grr8t neighbor you are...pathetic!

Myers215 said: For some reason it really annoys me when people say "federal offense."

I'm just sayin...

I hate the phrase "schwetty balls"

ggrr8t said: jimates said: I use my neighbors address with my daughters name for rebates. The carrier sees the name and puts it in my box even though it has the neighbors address on it. Just the last digit is one number difference (3 vs 2) so it looks like a basic typo.
What a grr8t neighbor you are...pathetic!
I didn't say that my neighbor didn't agree to the deal. I had to ask her just in case the mail did get delivered there. Of course she would just call me and let me know if it did.

you aren't a true FW deal hunter if you haven't had a rebate sent to someone else's address because there is a one per household limit.

ggrr8t said: Myers215 said: For some reason it really annoys me when people say "federal offense."

I'm just sayin...

I hate the phrase "schwetty balls"
I really, really dislike the work HATE.

Myers215 said: For some reason it really annoys me when people say "federal offense."

I'm just sayin...


Yup, me too. No one says "state offense." The appropriate term is "federal crime." No prosecutor or person otherwise informed says "federal offense."

ggrr8t said: Myers215 said: For some reason it really annoys me when people say "federal offense."

I'm just sayin...

I hate the phrase "schwetty balls"


That would make a great name for a beer...

"Yup, I just downed me a 6-pack of Schwetty Balls...hic!"

It could even come in a spherical glass bottle and would actually "sweat" on a hot summer day!



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