I've been living at my current address for a couple of years now. It's not unusual to get mail for the previous residents, and as such I'm fairly familiar with their names and so on.

In the last couple of months I've started receiving mail, primarily pre-approved credit offers, for about five people, none of whom live here or have ever lived here. Also in the two years I've lived here I've never previously received any mail for any of these people.

I have some reason to believe that these are fake names. Some of the names are too common to do any research on (e.g. "Tim Smith"), but some of the more unique ones don't seem to be the name of any person who's lived in my state any time recently. Also, some of them are various combinations of the same first and last names, e.g. I'll get letters addressed to "Tim Smith" and also to "Tim Jones."

In some cases I receive a bunch of these things at once. For instance I got four pre-approved offers for Wal-Mart credit cards addressed to different people on the same day.

Is this some kind of scam, and if so how does it work and what can I do about it? As best as I can tell the only way it could work would be if someone is hoping to retrieve this mail from my mailbox before I get to it, unless these offers are just a byproduct of someone trying to use my address for something else.

  • Possible duplicate money.stackexchange.com/questions/133464/…
    – Freiheit
    May 17, 2022 at 20:36
  • Which country is this?
    – Aganju
    May 18, 2022 at 4:40
  • Is your address something people could easily make up without ever having been there, like ‘2000 Main Street” or “1234 Pennsylvania Ave”?
    – Aganju
    May 18, 2022 at 4:42
  • @Aganju: This is the U.S., and my address isn't notable in any way I can see. May 18, 2022 at 6:09
  • If these offers come with postage paid return envelopes, get a marker and write "No such person at this address" on the form and mail it back to them. If that fails, mail them a new address for the person. Cemetaries are good addresses to use for this purpose. May 18, 2022 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


Hanlons Razor - Never attribute to malice which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Pre-approved offers are advertising junk mail anyway, someones mailing list got goofed up or a prior resident gave a bogus address to get a freebie from a survey or something.

Toss it in the bin and move on with your day.

If you do suspect fraud, as suggested by the possible duplicate question, then fairly routine preventative measures would be:

  • secure your mailbox, pick up packages promptly
  • sign up for delivery awareness if its available (major carriers offer notifications for deliveries, USPS scans the mail and sends a preview of what is coming) ; This will reduce the risk of interception since if you expected to get something and it disappears you can report it. Or an unexpected delivery can be cancelled promptly
  • watch your accounts and credit reports ; This should be routine anyway
  • change your passwords for critical accounts which would use the mail such as banking and investments and credit cards
  • 1
    Given what he says about the names it probably involves some faking data somewhere but there's no reason to think he's the target. May 18, 2022 at 1:15
  • I'm not sure about this. The suggested duplicate question comes to exactly the opposite conclusion, and isn't it the case that pre-approved credit offers mean they did a credit check already? That would entail verifying the address, wouldn't it? Also, I'm routinely asked to prove that I live at my address by showing mail addressed to me there, so it seems not quite harmless for people who don't live here to be receiving mail that they could just take out of my mailbox and show someone. May 18, 2022 at 8:14

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