Wrong address. What can I do?

For the last few months, I keep getting mail for someone named Chase M. Richardson. I’ve contacted the Post Office, and they told me that as long as an address is valid, they will deliver the mail. If the address is a valid one but there is no such person at the address, write ‘Return to sender - Wrong address’ on the envelope and send it back. Only, I’m getting tired of it. Most of the mail is credit card offers and the like, but yesterday I received one from the State of Illinois Department of Health & Human Services. That looks important. Of course I wrote the notification on their ‘return service requested’ envelope.

I’ve tried searching for Chase M. Richardson using google, but most of the hits are for name searches you have to pay for. I’ve tried searching Facebook, and sent a message to a friend of someone named Chase M. Richardson in the State of Washington, but never received a reply. I’ve tried another resource that I shouldn’t mention, to no avail.

Is there anything else I can do to direct this mail to the intended recipient?

Not a lot, unfortunately. You could, I suppose, hire a private investigator to track them down and send the mail that way. But that would be expensive.

Anything important, send back and make it the sender’s problem. If it’s truly important the sender will do the work of finding the intended recipient. If it’s spammy, toss it. They probably won’t listen to your sending it back anyway as one set or eyes or another is irrelevant to them.

I’m not suggesting that chucking the other person’s mail directly into the garbage is nice, smart or proper in any way, but, is it criminal? Are you violating the law by simply disposing of it?

I don’t think so. I think opening someone else’s mail is illegal. (Which is a shame, since the letter from the State of Illinois might have enough identifying information to find him using my other resource.)

The Law Dictionary says that throwing away mail not addressed to you is indeed a crime. However, opening mail not addressed to you apparently is NOT a crime, if you do it accidentally. Next time you get mail, I recommend opening all the envelopes without looking at the addresses. (No, IANAL and I don’t really recommend this.)

Wow. I did not know that.

Get yourself a rubber stamp which prints NO SUCH PERSON RESIDENT - RETURN TO SENDER and use it on all the mail you get for this person. Then put the mail back in the post.

Yes. In addition to writing “NO SUCH PERSON RESIDENT,” you need to black out the bar-code with a Sharpie. What you’re getting is called “loop mail,” which keeps coming back because of automation.

To clarify, this is one thing you can try to do so that the mail actually gets back to the original sender in a way that makes them look at the “NO SUCH PERSON RESIDENT” note and change their database. I had the same problem, and it wasn’t until I started blacking out bar-codes that the mail stopped coming.

That’s kind of funny, because whenever I’ve moved they put a card in my box that I’m supposed to fill out with the last names of everyone who lives there or they won’t deliver my mail. And once, 30 some years ago, I didn’t fill out the card and they stopped delivering my mail. It wasn’t a huge deal, because I got all my official mail at my college mailbox, but I did find out too late to do anything about it that someone bought me a gift subscription to a magazine that never got delivered.

When I moved in with my gf I would mark her ex-huband’s mail “not at this address”. After about five years I began opening it (all junk mail requesting donations) and marking it “deceased” and sending it back to whatever charity it came from. Now it’s been 15 years. We still get requests from the catholic church he “attended”. I’d notify them but we use the packets of envelopes they send for scratch paper.

Since that one letter is from an Illinois agency, I tried searching on “Chase M. Richardson” and “Illinois” and found one person with that name living in that state. Perhaps that’s them or someone related to them. You might try getting hold of them and asking.

All of the hits I’m getting are pay-for-info ones, and the one I looked at didn’t have him in Illinois. One of the three Chase M. Richardsons I found on FB got back to me. Apparently there is a Chase Richardson group, and he has spread the word there.

When I Googled that name and that state, I got this webpage (and without paying anything):


It’s the fourth person on that webpage. Didn’t you get that one? Why should I get a webpage that you don’t? Anyway, you might try that one.

Didn’t see that one. I’ll try the numbers.

I have been getting mail for the previous resident of my house for over 3 years. About a year ago my local postmaster told me to throw it away, I don’t have any responsibility to return it to the post office after this amount of time. It all goes in the recycle bin, unopened.

My father died in 1997. I still get mail addressed to him.

I got a small package addressed to our house last week but with a stranger’s name. The postman had to knock because it was too big for the letterbox and I was able to give it straight back to him. We had a discussion and neither of us knew who it might be. Two days later a different postie knocked with the same parcel - I pointed out the label that the regular guy had stuck on it saying 'Not at This Address" and we had a laugh about it and more speculation about possible alternatives.

For normal letters, I will either pop them into a letterbox or if they repeat and look important, I accidentally open them.

I’ve lived here almost 7 years, and still get mail addressed to a previous tenant. Most of it is junk mail, but several months ago, I got something that looked like a court summons. I called the courthouse and let them know the circumstances, and before hanging up, the person I spoke to asked me, “And what address does (this person) NOT live at?”

It would be really wild if Mr. Richardson showed up here and said, “I wondered what happened to all that mail!”