It Looks Like Junk Mail, but It Isn’t

24 Aug

The Post Office provides blue tubs to recycle junk mail.  I watch as other customers search through their mail segregating it into piles: bills, correspondence, solicitations, and “other.”  Sometimes the “other” category includes plain envelopes with no return address. After the sorting the “other” classification may be torn in half and deposited in the blue tub or simply dropped in the recycling bin.  I cringe.

Admittedly, the vast majority of that “other” mail belongs in the junk category.  (There are moments when I believe that the only things keeping the Postal Service afloat are junk mail and advertisements.)  However, there could be a bomb in that “other” mail.


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, PL 111-203, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010), does not permit a professional debt collector to identify themselves as such on envelopes.  Consequently, you’re not going to see a Debts R Us logo or a person’s silhouette slapping a truncheon in their hand in the upper left hand corner of an envelope.  Typically mail from debt collectors looks just like trash; some might even have a return address so long as it doesn’t imply that debt collection is their business.

If it isn’t opened, no harm no foul, right?  Wrong! (I’ve witnessed too many people adopt this philosophy to their detriment.)

The bomb is on the inside.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, PL 111-203, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010), provides

  • That the validity of the debt or any portion thereof may be disputed;
  • That the dispute must be made in writing;
  • That the dispute must be submitted within 30 days;
  • That any failure to respond leads to the presumption that the debt is valid.


Don’t throw your rights away!  Be proactive!  Exercise your rights! Respond to the debt collector in writing and save a copy!  (I hate dealing with them over the phone.  They will say one thing and then deny it later. With a writing, there is a record.)  Get some legal advice.  (Prepaid legal service plans like LegalZoom and LegalShield offer legal consultations for a year for less than what some attorneys charge for an hour’s consultation.)

Resting on ignorance is detrimental.  At least take a moment to review that junk mail before pitching it in the recycle bin.


One Response to “It Looks Like Junk Mail, but It Isn’t”

  1. transplantfromohio September 11, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    I open everything and I am very cautious of what I put in public trash. I have seen people digging in public places in the recycling and regular bins. It makes me nervous to think what they’re doing with their findings.


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