Is it Illegal to Trash Someone Else’s Mail in Texas?
Did you know that a simple trip to your mailbox could lead you into some hot water? I am not talking about the fact that you have a ton of bills that need paying. I'm not talking about the junk mail that you get constantly. That can be a headache but not what could get you in trouble necessarily.
With the amount of times people move around there is no doubt that you get something in the mail addressed to someone else. It might be because it was accidentally delivered to your home. It could be that the resident used to live there but never updated their address.
So now you are left with the question of what to do with it. You might think well this is trash so can I just toss it. The simple answer is no. I wouldn't risk it. That is not the way to handle it.
You can get in some serious trouble even if you think you are saving someone else from what could be junk mail:
This is a federal offense under the United States Code, Title 18, Section 1708, and is subject to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Additionally, Texas state law may also have provisions related to mail theft or tampering. Violating someone's privacy and interfering with their mail is taken very seriously by both federal and state authorities.
The simple fix any time you get someone else's mail is to put it back as return mail in your mailbox. The post office will work on finding the rightful owner.
Is There a Time That You Can Legally Toss Someone Else's Mail?
Yes, if the mail is addressed to someone else but also says "or current resident". You can legally toss it. No issues with this scenario.
If there is someone else listed as the recipient you can not toss it. I have seen some very helpful people in our community when this happens.
They try to find the person themselves. This is how social media has made a lot of this kind of detective work easier. I see this a lot at tax time and people receive someone else's W2 in the mail. They go on a hunt to find the correct person.
I love that we have so many helpful people. The one thing I would not recommend is tossing it yourself. It is not worth the headache and the legal issues that could come because of it.
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