Suppose I receive a piece of mail addressed to my house with my last name, but with a first name I have never heard of. (I don’t know anyone with that name.)

It's from an organization I do have a relationship with, and I believe it is most likely a mistake; and it was meant for me.

The letter itself is not very important, but opening or destroying someone else’s mail is such a serious offense (18 USC 1708 and 18 USC 1702), and I don’t want to risk mishandling it.

I am wondering what should I do with the letter. I’m unsure if it would be appropriate to write "not at this address", because if it was meant for me that might confuse the post office.

Can I open it to check if it really was for me? (Or would that be illegal?)

If I can not open it, can I just bin it?

  • Have you considered to contact directly the sending party? A phone call or email to determine the intended sender would resolve the matter quickly. – fred_dot_u Mar 14 '20 at 10:29

Double check with your partner (if you have one), in case they have a psudonom, middle name, relative, have changed they're name by deed poll or something.

Otherwise I think you should return to sender.

If it is legit. Then the sending company can try contact the correct person (say via phone).

If it is a scam, it doesn't help the scammers anything.

If it is spam, then I think the bulk mailing company get charged higher rates if too much mail is returned. Which is also a good thing.

It is a good thing to do for the good people. And a bad(in a good way), but not evil, thing to do to the bad people. So win win.

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