Hey Maine, It’s The Easy Way, But It’s Also Against The Law
So, you've moved to a new house or apartment. Months go by, but you are still getting mail for the previous residents. Not just sale flyers and stuff for CURRENT RESIDENT. You are getting actual mail like bills, letters from grandma, and legal documents. You have no idea where the former residents moved. What are you supposed to do?
Can you just throw it away?
Nope! Actually, throwing away mail is a FEDERAL OFFENSE! You can get fined and/or up to five years in prison.
This is according to 18 U.S. Code § 1702.Obstruction of correspondence. The law reads, in part:
"Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."
What can you do?
Business Insider suggestions you write "return to sender" or "no longer lives at this address" on the mail before tossing it back in the mailbox.
Or, you could do the nice thing (assuming you have some extra time) and use your detective skills to track down the former residents. That is the main reason we have Facebook, right?