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"GENERAL DELIVERY" MAIL DECODED

by Robert Scott, P.I.

Missing persons investigators may at some point discover that the person they are searching for has an odd looking mailing address. It might look something like this:

John Doe
General Delivery
Ventura, CA 93001

This unusual looking address is actually post office legal and is known as general delivery mail. Such an address most often comes up in a database check, perhaps in a people finder search. There's no street address, just the words "General Delivery". So, what does this mean to the investigator or skiptracer?

First, its a virtual certainity that the person is or was homeless or at the least, has or had no permanent street address. The post office will hold General Delivery mail for thirty days. The person merely has to present photo ID to claim it at the customer service counter. Typically, only the main post office branch in any town will be the distribution point for general delivery mail.

The thirty day hold on mail is important and can be an asset to the investigator. If the investgator sends a general delivery letter to the missing person and it's returned, the person is likely no longer in the area as the letter went unclaimed.

The use of a general delivery mail address can also be an indicator that the person is living in a car or RV. If check of DMV records shows the person owns a vehicle AND they get their mail general delivery, there's a strong likelihood that this is the case. A check of unpaid parking tickets in this locality, if possible, is a good following step to determine possible physical locations of the vehicle. In the event that there are no unpaid parking tickets on file, another option is to do an area check of the streets in the vicinity of the post office. This is especially true if the person receives government benefits. They may want to be staying near where their checks are sent.

Robert Scott is a Los Angeles-based private investigator and creator of websites for private investigators, including SkipSmasher.com. Reprint permission.

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