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Making the Postal Service Work

Updated on February 18, 2012


Most people either have a mailbox of some sort or a way to receive mail. The problem is with so many changes in the postal services Americans use how can anyone keep up. Problems with forwarding mail to a new address or receiving the old tenants mail. Nobody wants to be busted by the postal police. So what do you do when you end up opening somebody's mail because it was delivered to you.

Types of Mail Service

To start with the postal service looking to earn profits instead of taking taxpayer money is using new types of mail services. Each service is different depending on the type of service, the cost, and the customer. Types of service for letters are:

First Class letter mail or larger flat pieces, this type of mail has what can be referred to as a round-trip or a redirect-able ticket as mail. This means these pieces if given back to the postal service and unopened can be returned to sender or forwarded to a new address without additional costs to the consumer. (the topic of forwarding will be expanded on later)

Second class mail which are magazines or subscriptions articles one would receive in the mail. These pieces are returnable or forward-able as well.

Third class mail is the mail mostly referred to as "junk mail." This mail can have a "service requested" service as well which means in some way shape or form can be given back to the mail person and returned or forwarded to a new address, some fees may apply upon receipt of this mail if forwarded. Most this mail is not classified as "service requested" and is true "junk mail" this mail if given back to a mail person is processed but eventually ends up in the trash or recycle bins.

Those are the basic types of mail in use currently in the mail system. This will help when explaining why one will receive mail that is not theirs.

Forwarding Mail/Changing Your Address

When moving from one address to another one should fill out a change of address form specifically for the postal service they are using, usually this means a U.S. Postal Service Change of Address form since no other private company can deliver regular letter mail. When filling out the form be careful to fill out all the sections correctly and check the form after it is filled out for errors or missed areas. Now when a change of address is filled out it is for either and individual or an entire family. As a note remember this is a service provided free of charge. The only time a fee is charged is if the form is submitted electronically over the Internet. (I may be incorrect about this but it is one dollar, I am not going to pay for something that is free so I have never used this method.) When a residence has more than one last name and the entire family (all residents are moving) a form has to be filled out for each persons name that is moving, as a safety net one should always create a change for their maiden name as well no matter how long it has been. For example if the Trace family is moving a family form for the Trace family would be filled out. As stated as a precaution an additional form should be filled out for the maiden name in the family as well. First class and second class mail will be forwarded to the new address as long as the postal service has the information.

When receiving a forwarded piece of mail that means the move is complete and mail is being delivered to the new address. Each piece of mail that is forwarded from the old address should require attention. Calling the sender or notifying them of the new address should be done, the forwarding service will expire after one year and some cases the mail will only be forwarded for shorter periods (example if the house is vacant the mail may be returned as a vacant address). The most important point to remember is that the forwarding service is only a precaution.

Why do I Receive Mail for Old Residents?

When moving into a rental property or a existing home, one will see mail for previous tenants. Some people choose not to fill out, forget, or just do not know how to change their address with the postal service. For those who use UPS Store mail boxes, etc., the mail is still delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. A change of address should still be submitted to both services. Another reason for receiving non resident mail at an address is if individuals or families ignore the instructions on the yellow sticker when mail is forwarded and a forward expires. Some mail may be address to a person and as well the current resident this mail is third class non service requested mail most times. If it is current resident mail and first class mail then the postal carrier can only return the mail as vacant residence which can cause confusion for mailers even mailers you want to receive mail from. It is better to check for the label of "current resident," "smart shopper," "loyal customer," or other general statements referring to a current resident and just keep the mail or discard it personally. Please understand the Postal Service is still a federal organization with a law enforcement department (Postal Inspectors) and should be taken seriously. If there is a question as to what to do leave a note in your mail box or bring the question to the local post office.

Nobody wants to end up here.
Nobody wants to end up here.
The Postal Service has made life outside of the city a more viable option.
The Postal Service has made life outside of the city a more viable option.

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