My wife bought a condo in foreclosure a couple of years ago. We both live here and most weeks I get a couple of pieces of mail for the previous owners; who apparently ran a business here. Most of the time it is meaningless junk mail, magazine subscriptions, etc., but sometimes it is bank statements, letters from the IRS, and collection agencies as well. Most of the time I throw it away or write "Return To Sender" depending on what type it is.

I received 2 letters from a bank, which I have not noticed letters from before yesterday. Both contained what I assume are debit cards (I did not open the mail though). So it seems that the former residents are opening new bank accounts in their name, using their former (my current) address. The thing that really set off flags in my mind is that not long ago I opened several accounts at the exact same bank.

Should I be nervous about this? Can this come back and harm me for whatever reason? Can this harm my credit? Will banks/collection agencies go after me for someone else's debt? (I know I wouldn't be liable, but I still don't want to deal with it.) Should I be nervous about my identity?

  • 5
    They could just be replacement cards for an old account, rather than a fresh account. Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 19:01
  • @GaneshSittampalam that it true however I would have expected occasional statements or advertisements and such from the bank if that were the case. Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 19:44
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    The cards in the envelopes may just be promotional material. Some issuers use dummy cards as an enticement. Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 22:32
  • Not entirely related to your specific question, but it may be illegal for you to throw away any mail addressed to the old owner, even if you think it's just junk mail. Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


Give it to your mailman to return to sender. For this kind of material, return service is always requested, and it will let the bank know that they have incorrect address information. If the owner needs the cards, he'll contact the bank, or the bank will contact him to verify the address.

Either way, as long as its not in your name, I don't think you should be worried.


Don't worry about it. One of the big banks who like to whine a lot about defaulting borrowers is sending credit cards to a former resident of my home.

The guy died in the late 90s.

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