Over 10 years ago, the previous owners of my house moved away. They didn't leave us a forwarding address and aren't in the phone book. This time every year I get a letter from a bank addressed to each of their children; clearly the parents forget to change the addresses on the children's accounts. I don't open them but return it to the sender unopened with a note stating when they moved out. Without opening the letter it's clearly some form of statement. Despite having done this every time I've received such a letter, they keep coming, clear evidence that no-one pays attention to returned post.

If it was the parents' account I'd be less concerned, but as the children (who I guess would be late teens by now) have been let down I'd be prepared to do make a little effort to help them; they may even be unaware that they have these accounts.

I don't think it's appropriate to try to track down the children myself, and the bank should refuse to discuss anyone else's account with me. So is there anything I can do -- without much effort or being intrusive -- to reunite these kids with their accounts?

  • 12
    Have you considered going to a branch office and telling someone in person?
    – user
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 14:10
  • 12
    You think this is bad, I get mail for a former occupant from Companies House, who tell me "As this address can only be changed by the company, I will try and contact an officer of the company to arrange for the required notice to be completed in order to update the address" !
    – AakashM
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 14:55
  • 10
    "Hello Mr. Banker. I am getting mail for Joe Smith at my address. He no longer lives here and has not within the last 10 years. I have no knowledge about their address." They discussed nothing.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 15:19
  • 9
    I had a bank send an online account password for someone else to my house. It was a pain to work through their phone tree to finally get ahold of a live person but when I did and explained the situation they thanked me profusely for letting them know. There hasn't been a recurrence.
    – NotMe
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 15:20
  • 14
    Nowadays, the seemingly most productive course of action is to shame companies over social media. "How incompetent is BANK X? They've been sending me the old homeowner's statements for the PAST 10 YEARS and won't fix it. ARRGGGHH!" Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


I used to work for a bank and this type of thing is quite common - the company I worked for had a policy to handle any mail to any "gone away" customers

These mail items would still be generated but would go to an internal team to deal with inside the bank so the new residents weren't bothered further.

The bank is possibly breaking the Data Protection Act by ignoring your actions as they knowingly hold out of date / incorrect personal information. You may consider writing to complain and that may elicit some kind of remedial action on their part. If you state this has been happening for several years and you are going to advise the Data Commissioner they may sit up and take notice.

The bank will have a variety of methods they can use to try to find the correct address, some will cost money so let them pay for it!

If the threat of reporting them for breaking the DPA doesn't work, the form to raise a complaint with ICO is here:


That might achieve little but it won't do any harm and may make you feel better at least!

  • +1 Great, constructive answer for when 'Return to Sender' just isn't cutting it! Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    I get the feeling this guy is or has been a data administrator for a direct marketing company based on this answer. It's bang on to what I was going to say.
    – John Bell
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 15:12
  • Yeah, the usual response to reporting that I'm receiving even mildly protected information about somebody else is that they promptly deal with it. The only organization that didn't get their act together on the first contact was the school district--being government they're rather shielded from being sued over such stuff and didn't care that I was getting notifications meant for a parent. Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 4:26

Coming back to this after a few years, I can report that going into a branch and speaking to a customer service person* was successful (as suggested in the comments, but not in the answer I accepted). I wrote what little I knew on the outside before my visit, including a mention of the data-protection aspect.

* It's quite common to be on entering a bank branch in the UK to be greeted by someone competent, who can help with many issues that don't involve handling money. I'm not sure what their employer would call them, but they're distinct from the tellers (which isn't a widely-used term in the UK).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .