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I own a house that I was renting to a guy who decided to do some remodeling work without my permission or knowledge. He was planning on buying it from me, but we never came to terms and he vacated the property. Unfortunately when he did so, he left a lot of the remodeling unfinished and I have to pay to complete it or the house will be unlivable. He also refused to pay 3 months of past due rent. There is a lot more to the story, but that’s not what this post is about. I’m here to tell you how to track someone down at a new address.

There is going to be a lawsuit, but in order to send papers to the guy I needed to know where he moved. I did not want to ask directly because he may have given me a wrong address. I also did not want him to know that I was about to sue him. I knew he was having his mail forwarded, so I figured that I could just call the post office and they would tell me. Wrong. According to them, it was illegal for them to tell me the new address even though I said it was for a lawsuit. Thankfully, the post office isn’t that bright, because I just got it from them another way.

After digging through their website, I came across the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service Domestic Mail Manual. In Section 507, I found Exhibit 1.5.1 which is titled, “Treatment of Undeliverable First-Class Mail, First-Class Package Service and Priority Mail”. There are a number of options, but if you look at “Return Service Requested”, you will see that you can find out the new address without the addressee ever finding out.

All you have to do is mail an envelope to the person’s old address with “Return Service Requested” printed 1/2 an inch above the delivery address. I enclosed a short letter because I wasn’t sure if this would work, but it was not necessary. After two weeks, I got the original letter back with the person’s new address printed on a yellow label.  They have to have a forwarding address, or you will just get the letter back without any information.

That’s all there was to it. They guy has no idea I did this little bit of detective work and he will probably be shocked when he sees a letter from my attorney arrive in his mailbox. It didn’t even cost me anything.

UPDATE 09/10/13: It seems a few people have had problems with addressing their envelopes by hand. As one commenter, Carolyn, has pointed out, you must type/print them out. Basically, look at the picture, then make yours look like that. Keep in mind that if you have issues or questions, it if often helpful to read the comments section of an article because you may find the answers there.

Return Service Required

This is the actual letter I sent and received back with the new address on it. You can see from the dates on the postmark and the new label that it took about two weeks.