How to stop wrongly addressed mail getting delivered to you

There are many reasons as to why someone’s mail may get delivered to the wrong address and end up in your mailbox. Carriers may misread the address, mail might get put in the wrong pile or the address may have just been incorrectly recorded; whatever the reason, there are easy ways to deal with it. Business Kitz have written this blog to guide you through what do you do if you receive someone else’s mail.

What do I do when I receive wrongly addressed mail?

If mail has been delivered to your address, but is labelled with a completely different address, do not open or throw it away as there are multiple options to resolve this issue. 

If the correct address is close to yourself or is a neighbour, you are more than welcome to deliver the mail yourself to the correct address. You can either place the mail in their mailbox or can leave it at their doorstep if it is a package and won’t fit in their mailbox. This is an easy and quick way to deal with the situation. 

Alternatively, if the address is far away or you are unable to deliver it, you can write either on the actual envelope with a pen or on a sticky note attached to the envelope, that it was delivered to the wrong address. If you post this into an outgoing mailbox, it will then be delivered to the correct address within the next few days. It is recommended to only write directly on the envelope with ballpoint pens and to avoid using markers as they can leak through the paper and may damage the contents. A safer alternative is just to write on a note and attach it to the mail. 

Wrongly addressed mail should not be opened.

What if the mail is addressed to a former resident?

If the wrongly addressed mail is delivered to the correct address but is intended for a previous resident, it’s a bit more difficult to correct this. Ultimately, it is up to the previous resident to update their address on all their accounts. However, you can also write on either a note or the envelope “person no longer lives here” and place it in an outgoing mailbox and it will be sent back to the original sender.

This will hopefully prompt the sender to seek contact with the intended recipient and update their address to amend the situation, to prevent it from reoccurring. Depending on how much mail the previous recipient receives, this may be tedious but is ultimately the best way to deal with the situation.

Can I throw away mail that’s not mine?

In Australia, if you throw away someone else’s wrongly addressed mail, it is considered mail tampering (or mail fraud) and is a crime. Even if the mail was incorrectly delivered to your address or the recipient no longer lives at the property, you must responsibly deal with the situation, as per the recommended courses of action aforementioned. Australia’s national postal service, Australia Post, is the only organisation or body legally authorised to dispose of mail. 

Can I open all mail that gets sent to my address?

It is illegal to open mail that is not intended for yourself, unless you have received consent from the official recipient. If you knowingly open someone else’s mail, you put yourself at risk of receiving harsh fines and severe punishments. 

If you accidentally open mail that’s not addressed to yourself, because the recipient’s name isn’t clearly labelled or if the mail contents are addressed to someone else, then it is not considered a criminal offence. If this occurs, you must then return the mail to the post office straight away. If you keep it, you may be charged with mail tampering. 

If you are wanting to learn more about Australia’s postal laws, you can read the Telecommunications and Postal Services Act 1989. This document includes information regarding the laws and penalties surrounding mail tampering in Australia.

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Legal advice

If you have any queries or are unsure about mail tampering or wrongly addressed mail, you should seek legal advice. Our sister company Legal Kitz can assist in identifying mail tampering and can give advice on how to deal with it if it happens to you. Our Legal Kitz business specialists can assist with ensuring that your concerns are addressed and can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation. You can book a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.

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