Receiving another persons mail?

Every now and then the mail person delivers someone elses mail to our house. I have always returned them to the post office…writing on the envelope not at this address.

My question is: If I get obvious junk mail, am I allowed to toss it or am I legally obligated to return ALL mail accidentally left in our mail box?

My postman said junk mail can go - other stuff you do the RETURN TO SENDER routine.

I have a road side mailbox, where, when I have mail to go out, I put up the flag. When I receive the mail of others, I just put it back in the box for the next days pick-up. The carrier doesn’t look at it, it goes back to the post office as sent mail. The same piece has never come back a second time. No need to write anything on the envelope…that just confuses things.
This, by the way, was my carriers advice.

I write *RTS - not known at this address * on letters. I throw junk mail straight into the recycling bin.

“not at this address” is for mail correctly delivered to the address, but not addressed to the name of anybody actually living there. ltfire’s procedure is appropriate for items delivered to the wrong address. From the USPS FAQ on the subject:


For other misdelivered mail items (such as letters):

    * If the mailpiece is addressed correctly but delivered to the wrong address:
          o Don't erase or mark over the address, or write any type of endorsement on the mailpiece.
          o Place the item back in the mailbox or hand the item back to your mail carrier.
    * If the mailpiece is delivered to the correct address but the addressee on the mailpiece does not reside at the address:
          o Write "Not at this address" on mailpiece.
          o Don't erase or mark over the address.
          o Provide the mailpiece to your mail carrier or drop into a Collection Box® receptacle.

I would also guess that you are not actually LEGALLY obligated to do a damned thing, that is, if you want to be an asshole and simply pitch it in the wastebasket no matter how important it looks you aren’t commiting a crime. Common courtesy suggests that you should do the above, but I doubt that even a civil suit by the intended recipient (if they somehow found out) would stand up in court.

Just offered as a bit of trivia but the post office does not deliver to people - they deliver to an address.

If, while sorting the mail, the carrier notices a wrong name and knows where it goes they may deliver it to the correct address. But this falls under the heading of, “Doing you a favor.”

Junk mail as mentioned can be pitched.

This is per Ms Hook and the little Hook who have worked for the PO for a combined 33 years.

I had this problem daily for a while and kept sending stuff back until I finally talked to the local postmaster.

I’m a bit fuzzy on what it means at this point, but to the best of my memory, it’s “Pre-sort Standard - Non-First Class” that you can just throw in the trash, no matter how official it looks. It’s just junkmail. If you do any kind of “Return to Sender” and put it back in the box, it’ll get thrown in the trash when it gets back to the post office.

You can ID this kind of mail by looking at the printed postage and it’ll have PRESORT STANDARD. If it’s PRESORT FIRST CLASS, then it’s real mail.

Check out your junkmail and then the non-junkmail and you’ll see the difference.

Jason