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How long to keep forwarding previous owner's mail?
Old 07-11-2019, 06:03 AM   #1
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How long to keep forwarding previous owner's mail?

The house we bought was owned by a divorcing couple. They rented it out at some point.

We get a lot of mail for the ex-husband. Much of it looks like stuff you'd want: finance companies, doctor's offices, insurance companies. I've been dutifully writing "Not at this address, please forward" and trudging to the mailbox, but that's getting tedious. Neighbors say they haven't seen the man since forever, so I'm thinking if it's been over a year and he hasn't bothered to inform these companies, it should be OK to just throw away the mail.

What do you all think?

(We get mail for the ex-wife, too, but it's all ads, and reminders to come back and visit the Mercedes dealership, the Corvette dealership, the Audi dealership, the liquor store...those go in the trash!)
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:08 AM   #2
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The forwarding should have been the previous owners responsibility. It’s as easy as filling out a card. Junk is never forwarded. I don’t think you have any obligation to forward the mail. You are being nice in doing so, but it’s not your problem.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:09 AM   #3
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After we had been in this house for 6 months we started to receive packages for some lady, I guess at some time she lived here. I found her and brought the package to her store. A few weeks later another package, I talked to the post office and UPS who told me what they needed her to do. I explained this to her twice and she wasn't receptive to doing anything.

Next box received went in the trash and somehow she's figured out how to change her address. Haven't received a box in over a year.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:09 AM   #4
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I did it for a couple of months, then stopped.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:12 AM   #5
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They should have told the USPS themselves. I think your obligation is over. Do you know your postperson? You might ask him/her.

When we moved in October, I dutifully told the post office and I also went online and updated my address with all companies we do business with, as well as some charities. The USPS warned us they would quit forwarding 2nd class mail after some date and I thought: "I'm OK with that..."

Well I'll be darned if almost every organization that used to send junk mail, solicitations and catalogs now send the same stuff to my new address. A broken junk mail link somehow heals itself.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:16 AM   #6
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They should have told the USPS themselves. I think your obligation is over. Do you know your postperson? You might ask him/her.

When we moved in October, I dutifully told the post office and I also went online and updated my address with all companies we do business with, as well as some charities. The USPS warned us they would quit forwarding 2nd class mail after some date and I thought: "I'm OK with that..."

Well I'll be darned if almost every organization that used to send junk mail, solicitations and catalogs now send the same stuff to my new address. A broken junk mail link somehow heals itself.
There is a national change of address clearing house. If you submit an address change with the post office, the advertisers will eventually get your new address. The postman will not forward junk delivered to your old address, but you can get new junk at the new address.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:23 AM   #7
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The drawback to just pitching them is that bill collectors may actually come to your address if you haven't informed them he's not there anymore. Of course they may come to that address as the one on record anyway. Also, legally you aren't supposed to toss someone else's mail, though I would be tossing the junk for sure.

Can you keep a sharpie in the mail box and shuffle through mail right there and scribble "not at this address" and stuff it right back in? Or just keep a stack and once a month or so put them back in the box. Be sure to cross out any bar code on the envelope so that isn't read again and the mail comes back to you.

I assume you don't know the current address to fill out a change of address card? How about for the ex-wife? Let her deal with it. But neither of those is legal either and would more likely get you into trouble.

Talk to the postal carrier or postmaster to see if there's anything you or they can do. I get my mail through a small rural PO and I know both well enough to ask and feel like they'd do something if they could. Even in a big city the postmaster should take this seriously.

Another suggestion I've heard is to put a sticker on your mailbox to the effect of "so-and-so no longer lives here, do not deliver their mail" as a reminder to the carrier.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:25 AM   #8
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Unfortunately I’d have a hard time tossing mail that I thought was other than junk mail. I’d change what you write on the mail to Return to Sender. Not just because I like Elvis, but because eventually the company trying to get mail to this guy will have to figure out he no longer lives there.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:28 AM   #9
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We moved into our current house in 2010, and I still get junk mail almost daily for someone who was there even before the person we bought the house from. Some of it is porn and even racist. I went to the post office and asked what I could do to stop it and was told "nothing." The mail carrier knows I don't want to see it and he intercepts it, even though he's not supposed to. I throw whatever gets through in the recycle bin.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:32 AM   #10
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Can you keep a sharpie in the mail box and shuffle through mail right there and scribble "not at this address" and stuff it right back in?

+1 This is exactly what we did with the previous owner's sons mail, some of which, due to the content, we did not want to bring into the house. Eventually it stopped.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:36 AM   #11
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Just in case.........in the unlikely event that that person is ignorant of the procedure for informing USPS,you might make one of your notes on the forwarded mail reflect that info. Then after some time, a 2nd & Final notice.
That way,no guilt on your part and then you can do the Return to Sender notes before you finally start trashing them.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:01 AM   #12
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I don’t know if this matters but - I write “return to sender - moved”
This has worked for the renters that had our place before we moved in - I even do it for junk mail - that has an address.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:08 AM   #13
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I would probably keep it in a bundle over the next week (or two bundles if there's more than one addressee). Then have a chat with your carrier, ask them what they can do. Your carrier is likely the one sorting as well and should be able to be the line of first defense.

It's always good to have a friendly relationship with your main carrier anyway.

If their answer is unhelpful, then do the same but to your main PO postmaster.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:09 AM   #14
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About twice a week we get mail that should've gone to a house across town. The mailman is an idiot; not even a similar name or street name. We throw it out.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:16 AM   #15
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About twice a week we get mail that should've gone to a house across town. The mailman is an idiot; not even a similar name or street name. We throw it out.
Why not just drop it back in the outgoing mail? We also regularly get mail and deliveries for a house two streets over with a similar address (rd vs st).
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:20 AM   #16
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They got rid of most of the mailboxes. The nearest one is about a mile away. If we left it in our box the mail carrier might leave it there for a week or two or three.
We have zero trust of the USPS ariund here at this point and have anything of importance go through UPS.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:20 AM   #17
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There is a national change of address clearing house. If you submit an address change with the post office, the advertisers will eventually get your new address. The postman will not forward junk delivered to your old address, but you can get new junk at the new address.
Yes, that's the problem. I think that junk mail advertisers are actually required to use this database to update their info and thus minimize undeliverable mail. It may be why some people don't fill out a Change of Address form.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:43 AM   #18
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Spouse is a retired rural carrier. They are required to deliver the mail to the address, not to the person.

Forwarding orders are good for only six months at a time.

Because the PO is going to more and more contract workers, you will often have a different carrier a couple of times a week.

Much of the mail comes presorted to the delivery PO.

It used to be that the clerk and carrier would handle each piece of mail to see who/address etc. and could make adjusments,that handling is now greatly reduced.

So if the presorted bundle has wrong mail in it, the carrier often will not see it.

Presorting is supposed to help on time management etc. If the weather is crappy, doesn't matter. If there is a car accident that required the road to be closed etc. he was still required to be back at the PO by a certain time so that any outgoing mail would be on the outgoing truck. If he missed that window, he was required to take it (on his own dime and time) to the next collection PO. It was about 30 miles away.

Having seen how things progressed during 34ish years-- I don't fault the carrier for very little.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:49 AM   #19
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In a similar issue---- we get collection calls on our landline for 1 couple. According to Spectrum, they recycle the telephone number after about 3 months.

We try to be polite to the caller as they are doing what they are informed/required to do as part of their job.

Same issue just a different venue. Easier to blame the final cog in the delivery wheel than the people who call the shots.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:58 AM   #20
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Same issue just a different venue. Easier to blame the final cog in the delivery wheel than the people who call the shots.
Sure, but how does a letter for #3 Main St end up in the mail box for #4375 Southwest Eisenhower Drive 4 miles away (example) happen? The final cog has to read the address doesn't he?
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