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Old 06-07-2008, 07:30 PM
 
Location: TX
734 posts, read 1,287,332 times
Reputation: 276
Default Laws regarding opening mail

I heard that it's illegal to open mail addressed to someone else, even if my address is on it, and that someone else doesn't live in my address. Say for example, junk mail, or someone else using my address (without my permission) for mailing purpose. So is it illegal?
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,362 posts, read 53,431,728 times
Reputation: 16290
Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenix_talons View Post
So is it illegal?
DEAD KENNEDYS - Stealing People's Mail
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Old 06-08-2008, 03:24 AM
 
109 posts, read 279,596 times
Reputation: 66
Where I had to rent accomodation to go to university, we received tons of mail not addressed to anybody who currently lived there, nor the landlord or our neighbours. Opening them and knowing the contents was imperative because not a few were reposession orders or threats that bailiffs would be employed.

On the other hand, occasionally the postman mistakes a number and delivers it to the wrong house.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:09 AM
 
646 posts, read 1,104,370 times
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It is a federal offense to open another persons mail. If somebody is using your address for some purpose, I would take the "unopened" mail to the post office and maybe they can forward it somewhere else. Thats just my 2cents.
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:44 PM
 
Location: TX
734 posts, read 1,287,332 times
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So what's the penalty/sentence for opening someone else's mail? I've opened so many in the past that I should be getting life in prison.
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:55 PM
 
Location: Apple Valley Calif
7,333 posts, read 11,283,030 times
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As mentioned above, it's a federal offense to open someone else's mail, however there is a difference in opening junk mail, and one stealing mail from someone's mail box with criminal intent. You get caught doing that, and your butt will be deep in the confines of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
I still receive mail for the previous owner of my home, almost three years after they moved. I have opened numerous mail addressed to them, just to notify the sender they have the wrong address. The junk mail I just toss. For a long time, I just put "Not at this address" and put it back in the mail box. The same mail would usually be returned to me a a couple of days. The postal system is run by the government, need I say more....?
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:11 PM
 
13,504 posts, read 24,628,462 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenix_talons View Post
I heard that it's illegal to open mail addressed to someone else, even if my address is on it, and that someone else doesn't live in my address. Say for example, junk mail, or someone else using my address (without my permission) for mailing purpose. So is it illegal?
Here's what the Post Office says to do... it never works for me

Reporting / returning misdelivered mail
Important: If the misdelivered item meets any of the following criteria:

Express Mail service item,
Perishable item,
Mailpiece that is too large to be left in the mailbox,
Please contact the Delivery Supervisor at your local Post Office facility:

For Express Mail items only, you can obtain the number of the Express Mail Reporting Unit by calling:

1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777)
For other misdelivered mail items (such as letters):

If the mailpiece is delivered to the wrong location:
Don't erase or mark over the information, or write any type of endorsement on the mailpiece.
Place the item back in the mailbox or hand the item back to your mailperson.
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.

And here is the cut and paste link:


http://faq.usps.com/eCustomer/iq/usps/request.do?session={f2bcc680-3595-11dd-4903-000000000000}&event=1&view()=c%7B1c8f21c0-57e2-11dc-51b6-000000000000%7D&objectId=&eksObjectId=&objectType= Case&isJumpEnabled=false&isContentJumpEnabled=fals e&vendorKey=&objTitle=&versionId=642
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Old 06-08-2008, 05:44 PM
 
Location: TX
734 posts, read 1,287,332 times
Reputation: 276
We shredded the mail. If it ain't ours by name, it's junk!
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:01 PM
 
1 posts, read 858 times
Reputation: 10
It is NOT illegal to open someone else's mail once it has been delivered. There is a common misconception that it is illegal to open mail addressed to someone else that has been delivered to you. There is no federal statute that prevents you from opening mail not addressed to you once it has been delivered by the Postal Service. If you take something that was in the mail you might violate a state law against stealing. If you use information contained in the mail for a wrongful purpose like identity theft, you are breaking state and federal law, but opening the mail is not illegal in itself.
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:36 PM
 
240 posts, read 252,332 times
Reputation: 305
Federal law prohibits the tampering or obstructing of mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. 17 U.S.C. 1702, 1708.

Pursuant to section 1708 it is illegal to tamper with someone else’s mail. However, section 1708 ceases to apply once the letter is lawfully received at the intended address. U.S. v. Anton (9th Cir. 1976) 547 F.2d 493, 495 (“Once an item is delivered to the address indicated by the sender and lawfully received at that address, the item ceases to be in the mail and the protection which section 1708 provides terminates.”).

Pursuant to section 1702, it is illegal to obstruct the delivery of mail before it is delivered to the person to whom it is addressed. But, an “authorized agent” may nonetheless open or obstruct such mail, before it reaches the person to whom it is addressed without being in violation of that section. Devine v. U.S. (9th Cir. 1960) 278 F.2d 552, 555(finding a violation of the law where “appellant was neither an addressee, nor an authorized agent of an addressee, of the letters taken from the mail”) (emphasis not in the original).
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