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USPS Misdelivery: What To Do if Your Package is Forwarded to a Different Address

Have you ever been excited to receive a package only to realize that it ended up being sent to the wrong address? With the amount of packages that the USPS handles daily, it’s inevitable that some packages will end up where they shouldn’t be.

So what do you do if this happens to you? How do you deal with this mail forwarding error? How can you get your package back? Continue reading to learn what you can do if you experience this type of mail service challenge.

How To Know if Your USPS Package Was Forwarded to the Wrong Address

Do you wait by your mailbox until your package magically arrives? Well, not exactly. Instead, there are more proactive ways to know whether USPS delivered your package to a different location:

  • Track Your USPS Package
  • The best way to know whether your package was incorrectly forwarded or misdelivered is to track it. Here are the most common steps to take to know where your package is:

1. Determine Your Tracking Number

  • If you purchased an item from an online retailer, they likely sent you an email with a notice of shipment. This message contains information on what you bought, when it was shipped, and what the tracking number is.
  • If you’re the sender and you want to make sure that USPS package forwarding errors don’t happen, you’ll need the tracking number of your shipment as well.

2. Track the Package

  • There are several ways to track a package sent via USPS. You can do it via USPS.com, by sending a status inquiry via text, by using the USPS mobile app, or by calling the postal service.
    • On the USPS Tracking page, enter the tracking number in the search bar. The results will show you the status of your package.
    • You’ll see if it has been accepted for shipment, has reached your local post office, or is out for delivery.
    • If it shows that it has been delivered but you haven’t received it, chances are the USPS forwarded it to the wrong address.
  • If you have Informed Delivery and it notifies you that your package has been delivered even though it didn’t reach you, it likely was forwarded to a different address.

Reasons Why USPS Delivered to the Wrong Address

There are many reasons why your package didn’t arrive at your doorstep, and was instead delivered to another house. Is it because the Post Office mailperson made a mistake? That’s not generally the reason, since your local post office has a system designed to prevent most delivery mistakes. Each USPS facility has machines and sorting operations that aid in the delivery of mail and packages to where they’re addressed. As much as possible, these machines and the staff aim to sort mail and get it to the right destinations. 

So why did your package end up at the wrong address? How did it get there? Here are some reasons why it does sometimes occur: 

  • Recipient Has A New Address
    • Did you move to a new location without filing a USPS Change of Address request at the post office? If this happens, your sender may still have your old shipping information and may have sent your package to the old address.
    • Completing and filing a Change of Address request is an essential step when moving residences, but it’s understandable that you might forget because moving can be stressful.
      • As soon as you’re settled into your new space, we recommend processing your Change of Address request as soon as possible.
      • You can do this on the USPS website, by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS, or in person at your local post office by asking for Form 3575.
    • If you’re the sender, it’s also possible that your recipient moved without processing their Change of Address with the USPS.
      • Before you ship out a package, contact the recipient first and confirm whether they’re still at their old address. You might ruin your surprise package, but better safe than sorry (e.g. chasing after a forwarded package that becomes lost in the labyrinth of the mail service highways).
  • Addressing Errors
    • A single digit mistake in the mailing address can result in USPS forwarding mail and packages to a different town, city, or state. If the Zip Code has a different last digit or a missing digit altogether, you’ll surely have a misdelivered package situation on your hands.

When Should You Worry That Your Package Was Forwarded to a Different Address?

We all understand that a package’s journey will take a few days or sometimes even more than a week. We give the post office ample time to deliver our mail to us safely and securely. So when should you start worrying that your USPS package was forwarded to the wrong address? 

  • When It’s Been Days Since the Estimated Delivery Date
    • The arrival dates of your package will generally depend on the mail class or type.
      • Priority mail services, for example, will take between one to three days. Particularly, Priority Mail Express will take up to two calendar days, while Priority Mail will be delivered from one to three business days. If your package has not reached you in five days or more from the date of mailing, it has likely been misdelivered.
      • For First-Class Mail and USPS Ground Advantage packages, the estimated delivery date is between one to five business days. If, at least five days after the date of mailing, your package hasn’t arrived, it has likely been forwarded to a different address.
  • When You’ve Received a “Delivered” Notification
    • Got a notification that your package was delivered but you or a family member didn’t get it? This is a big indication that the forwarded package has reached a different address.
    • However, before you contact USPS or the post office to open a missing package case, you may want to do the following first:
      • Check your yard or surrounding areas. The mail carrier may have hidden the package away from the prying eyes of a porch pirate.
      • Ask family members if they received a package that was addressed to you.
      • Check with your neighbors to ask if they received a package on your behalf.
    • If these don’t produce fruitful results, it’s time to come to terms with the possibility that you have a USPS mail forwarding mishap to deal with.

How To Get a Package That Was Forwarded to the Wrong Address

Who is responsible if a package is delivered to the wrong address? What can do you to get your package back? There are several things you can do to deal with Post Office mail forwarding errors. For starters, don’t lose hope! You can often still get your package back or have it forwarded to the correct address:

  • Contact USPS Customer Service
    • Letting USPS or the post office know that they have committed a misdelivery is the first thing that you need to do. If they happen to have delivered your mail or package to your old address due to a mail forwarding mistake, inform them right away that you now have a new address.
  • Contact the Sender
    • If you’re the recipient, let the sender know right away that the package hasn’t been received. Hopefully, the sender will coordinate with the Post Office to have your USPS package forwarded to you ASAP.
  • Retrieve the Package from the USPS Mail Recovery Center
    • If the Post Office successfully tracks and retrieves the package, they’ll place it in the Mail Recovery Center or their “lost and found” department. You can claim the package from this center. In some cases, if the Post Office still can’t locate your new address, they’ll return the shipment to the sender.

What Should You Do if a Package Was Forwarded to You by Mistake?

Did USPS forward mail or a package to you by mistake? Did you receive a package that was meant for someone else?

If the package was delivered to the wrong location, you can drop it back in the blue mailbox. Don’t mark it up or cover the shipping label. But if the package was forwarded to the correct location but the recipient doesn’t live there, here are two things you can do:

  • Forward the Package to the Right Recipient
    • If you know the recipient and their new address, you can simply do a good deed and forward the mail to them directly. There’s no need to involve the Post Office.
    • Of course, you should also remind the recipient to process their Change of Address request immediately so that the mail forwarding mistake doesn’t happen again.
  • Return the Package to the Mailstream
    • If you received mail that was meant for the previous resident of your house and you don’t know their new address, you can simply place it back in the blue collection box. Mark the mail “Not at this address” so that the post office will know that it was misdelivered.

How To Avoid Receiving the Wrong Package or Mail Forwarding

While it’s fairly simple to deal with mail forwarding mistakes, it’s still better to not have to face them in the first place. So, how do we minimize these mail service mishaps? 

  • Always Be Sure to Use the Correct Address
  • Of course, this is the first thing to keep in mind so that your packages will go where they’re supposed to go. Always double-check the spelling you type or write on an address label. Also, don’t forget to ask whether the recipient has moved to a new address.
  • Process Change of Address Requests in a Timely Manner
  • If you don’t want the Post Office to forward mail to your old address, make sure to process your Change of Address request early in your moving process. Mail forwarding errors can be avoided altogether if the postal service is aware that you have new address information in the system.
  • Use a Mail Forwarding Service
    • Companies that offer premium forwarding services, like Anytime Mailbox virtual mailbox operators, is an excellent solution to help eliminate misdelivered packages. With a virtual mailbox, your packages will be securely delivered and at your request, forwarded directly to you.
    • In addition to avoiding mail forwarding mistakes, using a premium mail forwarding service is also a great way to protect your privacy.
      • Instead of using your current home address for online shopping, you can simply mail your packages to your Anytime Mailbox. They’ll then forward the mail or packages to you, keeping your personal information safe and secure.
    • And, virtual mailboxes also come with additional services that bring convenience and security to your day-to-day lives.
      • You can read the contents of your mail, request to shred or recycle spam mail, or store packages for free.
    • An Anytime Mailbox lets you manage all of your mail and shipping needs from the comfort of home or while you’re on the road, all from an innovative and user-friendly phone app.