If you have experienced economic abuse, your mail might be the last thing on your mind.
This page will help you think about the ways in which an abuser might have interfered with your mail or could do so after separation. It may also help you think about some steps you could take related to your mail to reach safety and regain control.
On this page
It is common for abusers to take mail. Citizen’s Advice found that 47% of victim-survivors have had their mail hidden, opened, or intercepted by the abuser. Abusers do this to control access to vital information about your employment, benefits or finances.
Examples of important letters that an abuser could keep from you include:
Ways in which an abuser might use your mail include:
Taking mail overlaps with controlling or coercive behaviour. An abuser may use this form of economic abuse to check your activity and movements through bank statements, such as where you have spent money on groceries or petrol.
Royal Mail has two services that can support you to take control of your mail without letting an abuser know of your location.
These options can come with a cost and may not be safe or convenient for everyone. You are in the best position to know what will be safe for you or not.
If you have recently moved, the redirection service ensures that your mail reaches you at your new address. When setting up a redirection, a confirmation letter is usually sent to your old address. You can ask them not to do this if you are afraid that the abuser will receive it. If you have moved because of personal safety concerns, call the specialist team on 03457 777 888, rather than applying online. All calls are confidential.
Post Office (PO) Box
A PO Box can provide you with a private and confidential address. There are three types of PO Box service:
When setting up a PO Box service, a confirmation letter is sent to your actual address. However, if you are setting up the PO Box due to personal safety concerns, Royal Mail recommends calling 03457 740 740, rather than applying online. You can then ask for confirmation not to be sent to your address. All calls are confidential.
The Royal Mail and Parcelforce websites have an Online Safe Spaces button that can direct you to additional help and advice about domestic abuse. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the circular Safe Spaces logo. There is a quick exit button if you need it.
Many banks and building societies can temporarily send your correspondence to your local bank branch rather than to your home address. Many banks have a ‘vulnerable customer team’ that you can speak to about whether this is available for you.
An abuser may continue to use your address for their post even after separation. Royal Mail recommends:
No forwarding address or postage is required.
If you continue to receive the abuser’s mail, you may wish to contact the Royal Mail specialist team on 03457 777 888.
In a report called Millions Without Mail, Citizens Advice calls on the government to invest in an ‘Address & Collect’ service. Your post could be directed to your local post office, which would keep it safe for you to collect when you can.
‘Address & Collect’ would also provide victim-survivors with a mailing address that cannot be used to track down your whereabouts.
Citizens Advice also highlights that it is vital for this type of address to be accepted on applications and by institutions such as banks. Read the Millions without Mail report for more information about the proposed service.
Last updated February 2023
If you are experiencing economic abuse, you are not alone. We have more information that can support you to take steps towards safety and begin to regain control of your finances.
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