While USPS is easily one of the best package and mail carriers in the country, they do make mistakes.
Whether a mail carrier is in a hurry and misreads the address or something gets sorted incorrectly, your mail or package could end up going to the wrong address.
When that happens, you might wonder what you can do to get your mail or package into your hands.
Checking with neighbors and informing the post office are two main things you can do, but here are four things you can do when the USPS delivers to the wrong address.
USPS Delivered To The Wrong Address (4 Things You Can Do)
1. Check With Neighbors
One of the most common places your mail ends up is in your neighbor’s mailbox instead of your own.
It’s possible that it got sorted incorrectly or fell into your neighbor’s slot while the mail carrier was working.
If you’re comfortable with your neighbors, then one of the things you can do is check with them.
It’s best done right after the mail gets delivered or as soon as you get home.
Some neighbors may not check the mailing address and simply open your letter or package thinking that it’s for them.
You can ask them if they received anything addressed to you.
As long as your neighbors are decent people, they should give you the mail or package if it was in their possession.
2. Consider Calling On Your Past Residence
If you recently moved, there’s a good chance that your mail or package ended up going to your former residence.
If you didn’t switch your mailing address in time or if you didn’t update your shipping address, then there’s a good chance that your package went to your previous residence.
If you’re comfortable with the current owners, you can always call or drop by and explain the situation to them.
Since opening someone else’s mail is illegal, they should have the piece of mail or package still.
There’s also a chance that they might have returned it to the post office, so they can deliver it again to the right address.
3. Call The Post Office
If neither of those places has your mail, then it’s time to call the post office.
You’ll need to call your local post office since they’re the ones who handle your mail and packages.
You can find the number of your post office with a simple Google search or by going on the USPS website.
You can also speak to someone directly by going to the post office and informing them about the situation.
While there’s not much that they can do since the mail or package is in the hands of whoever received it, they can keep an eye out for it.
If they receive the mail or package back, then they can ensure that it gets into your hands.
Making the post office aware of what’s happening is a great way to either follow up with the situation or ensure it happens less frequently in the future.
A final thing that you can do if the USPS delivers to the wrong address is to wait it out.
In many cases, you only need to wait a few days for the package or mail to arrive at the correct address.
That’s because it’s illegal for anyone to open up mail or packages that don’t belong to them.
If someone receives your mail or package, then they will need to return it to the mail carrier.
The mail carrier can then either send it to the correct address or send it back to the sender who can try to re-deliver it to the right address.
That’s why it’s also important to ensure that your shipping and mailing addresses get updated.
If the package ends up going back to the sender and all they have is an incorrect address, then they’ll keep sending it to the wrong address.
Otherwise, if you wait a few days, you might receive the letter or package in your mail as usual after the situation becomes corrected.
What To Do If You Get Someone Else’s Mail
If you happen to receive someone else’s mail or package, then you may be unsure of what to do.
The last thing you should do is open it.
To ensure you don’t commit a federal crime, here are some of the things you should do if you get someone else’s mail or package.
1. Deliver It Yourself
If you happen to know the address and person that the package belongs to, then you can always try and deliver it yourself.
That said, you should only do so if you feel safe going to that particular person’s house.
Delivering mail is easy since you just need to put it into their mailbox.
However, if you don’t feel safe putting a package by their front door, then you can always do one of the other things on this list.
Otherwise, if you do feel safe, then you can make that person’s day by delivering it instead of the USPS.
They’ll receive their item faster and you no longer have to worry about it.
2. Place Item Back In The Mailbox
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of delivering something yourself, then the best thing you can do is to put it back into the mailbox.
You don’t want to mark anything on the letter if it’s at the wrong address.
Simply putting it back in your mailbox and raising the flag will tell the mail carrier to pick it up.
The piece of mail will get sorted back at the post office and sent back out for re-delivery.
The same goes for a package.
If it’s small enough to fit inside of the mailbox, then you can simply put it back in there.
When the mail carrier passes through, they’ll pick up the item and take it back to the post office.
It will get re-sorted and sent to the correct address on the next delivery attempt.
3. Write “Not At This Address”
You may have found yourself in a situation in which you’ve received mail or a package and the person to who it belongs no longer lives there.
The address is technically correct, but the person isn’t there anymore.
When this happens, you need to take an additional step.
You need to write “Not At This Address“ on the mail or package.
Then you can put it back into your mailbox.
When the mail carrier receives it, they’ll take it back to the post office where it will get sorted.
They’ll then return the mail or package to the sender since they’re unable to deliver it to that specific person.
In this case, the recipient of the mail or package can then get a notification from the seller that they were unable to send the mail or package to them.
They can update their address accordingly, and you should stop receiving mail or packages for them.
By writing that message on the mail or package, you can correctly ensure that it goes where it needs to go.
4. Give Mail Or Packages To Your Mail Carrier
Perhaps you have received someone else’s package and it’s too big to fit into the mailbox.
Instead of leaving it out by your front door, you can hand the package to your mail carrier when you see them next.
This is ideal for people who tend to get home around the time that their mail carrier arrives.
Those who are away from home when the mail carrier comes around may have more difficulties.
However, if you want to take a half-day off from work, then you might be able to get home before the mail carrier arrives.
Once you see them, you can take the package and walk over to their truck.
Simply hand it over to them and let them know that it came to the wrong address.
They’ll take care of the problem from there.
Handing the misdelivered items to your mail carrier is a great solution if the item doesn’t fit in your mailbox or you want to ensure that the carrier gets it.
5. Go To The Post Office
A final thing that you can do if you get someone else’s package or mail is to take it to the post office.
This is another ideal thing you can do if the package is too large to fit into your mailbox.
By taking the mail or package to the post office, you can explain the situation to the clerk.
They’ll take the items and ensure that they get sorted and processed correctly.
If they need anything else from you, then you’re right where you need to be to get anything else sorted.
Going to the post office is a great option if you know that you’re never going to catch your mail carrier.
If they always deliver while you’re at work, for example, then taking the items to the post office is your next best bet.
What To Do If You Receive A Misdelivered Redelivery Notice
If you ever receive a “We Redeliver For You” PS 3849 form, you may be unsure about what you need to do.
It all depends on if you submitted the form.
One of the first things you should do is verify the address.
If the form is for someone who doesn’t live at your address, you should check the “Other” box on the form.
You’ll then want to write “Refused” next to it.
This is because you were not the one who submitted the form.
The person who the form is for did.
If the form is for a different address than your own, then you should do the same thing above.
This means that the mail carrier sent the form to the wrong address.
If you did ask for the form and it’s made out to you, then you can fill the form out as needed.
Once you’re done filling the form out, give it to your mail carrier or put it in your mailbox for pick-up.
Why Does The USPS Deliver Mail To The Wrong Address?
One of the most annoying things you might find yourself doing is tracking down a rogue piece of mail or package.
If the USPS accidentally sent your mail or package to the wrong address, you might be wondering why this happened.
After all, the USPS is a carefully controlled and regulated organization.
Here are some of the reasons the USPS might have delivered to the wrong address.
1. Smudged Address
One of the most common reasons that a mail carrier might end up delivering mail or a package to an incorrect address is that the address isn’t clear.
A smudge mark can sometimes distort the address and make numbers look like other numbers at a glance.
Since delivering mail is a fast-paced job, mail carriers may only take a quick look at mail before putting it into a mailbox.
If the smudge makes it look like a certain number, then the mail carrier may not think twice about delivering to a particular address.
To avoid this situation, it’s a good idea to carefully write out the address.
If a smudge occurs, you can either rewrite the address or start over with a fresh envelope or package.
You can also get labels printed that are more difficult to smudge if exposed to rain.
2. Poor Handwriting
Another reason a piece of mail or package might end up at the wrong address is poor handwriting.
If someone has messy handwriting, it can be difficult for the machines and mail carriers to read it.
They might sort it to the wrong place because they can’t make out the house numbers or the name of the street.
Even if it gets properly sorted, the mail carrier may struggle to read it.
They’ll give it their best guess, but there’s a chance it might go to the wrong person.
To avoid this, you want to make sure that you’re writing as clearly as possible.
It can sometimes help to write in capital letters to make your handwriting clearer.
You can also use labels which completely remove the need to handwrite addresses on mail and packages.
Poor handwriting can make delivering mail and packages difficult.
3. Outdated Mailing Or Shipping Addresses
Another common reason that USPS delivers to the wrong address is that the recipient hasn’t updated their mailing or shipping address yet.
If they recently moved, updating their address may be the last thing on people’s minds.
They might be more concerned with moving in and getting their home set up the way they need it to be.
The unfortunate thing about that is if they have packages or mail that get sent to them frequently, then those pieces of mail are still going to go to their old address.
Until they update their shipping and mailing addresses, they’re going to miss out on their mail.
In this case, the fault isn’t with the USPS.
If you plan on moving anywhere, the first thing you want to do is update your shipping and mailing addresses.
4. Human Error
The USPS uses humans to sort and deliver mail and packages.
Because of that, human errors do occur.
It can be a quick oversight that someone does which causes a piece of mail to get put in with other mail where it doesn’t belong.
A mail carrier may drop a piece of mail that ends up falling into another person’s mail collection.
However it happens, human error is possible when it comes to the USPS.
5. Busy Schedules
The USPS is a busy place.
They handle tons of mail and packages every day.
It only makes sense that being so busy can sometimes lead to errors.
A mail carrier who’s in a rush to finish their route might misread something.
A sorting facility with pressure to get a certain volume out might miss something.
When busy schedules become even busier, such as during the holidays, they can make a mistake that results in a letter or package getting sent to the wrong address.
The USPS can sometimes deliver a piece of mail or a package to the wrong address.
When that happens, you can do the things above to try and find out where it went and get it back.
If you received someone else’s mail, then you can also return it to ensure that it gets to the right address.