Say an address were to recieve repeated traffic citations from security cameras to an individual who does not live at the address. The address on the citation was correct, but the person listed did not (nor has ever) lived at that address. All letters have been returned to sender, but no address change appears to have been processed. What is the legal responsibility of the property owner?

If it matters, this would be in the United States, with the recipient being in one state, and the complainant being in a different state.

  • How does said person know the citations are being send to the wrong address? Does the person know? Did they return the letters with an address correction? Did the person have an invalid address on their driver's license? Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 21:08
  • Updated to make a bit clearer. This question is from the perspective of the property owner, not the person who should have received the letters.
    – Sidney
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 21:12
  • 2
    As far as I know, the only responsibility is to mark "not at this address" and put the letter back in the mail unopened. If the resident happens to know the correct address of the intended recipient, they could mark it for forwarding as a courtesy, but I don't think that's required. This would be the same for any misdirected mail, regardless of what it contains. In fact it's not really of the resident's business what the mail contains - they certainly should not open it. Is that all you wanted to know? Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 21:14
  • Also, have you seen law.stackexchange.com/questions/3636/… Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


You aren't allowed to open it or destroy it. (18 USC 1702).

USPS says (at http://faq.usps.com/):

If the mailpiece is delivered to the correct location but the recipient on the mailpiece does not reside at the address:

  • Write "Not at this address" on mailpiece.
  • Don't erase or mark over the address.
  • Provide the mailpiece to your mailperson or drop into a Collection Box receptacle.

Destroying mail that was not intended for you may be prohibited by US laws.

Willfully destroying mail is an act that may be punishable by the Federal Government.

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