Your safety
Only take the actions below if it is safe to do so. You are the best judge of whether making any changes might lead to further harm. In an emergency, call 999.

Economic abuse and your mail

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.

“I missed lots of warning letters from creditors and didn’t even know I was being made bankrupt until papers were served on me.”

Economic abuse and your mail

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: 

  • Utility bills and reminder letters, which could lead to debt if ignored.
  • Collection notices and county court judgments (CCJs), which may lead to a poor credit rating.
  • A benefits letter containing an appointment date. Not attending a benefits assessment could lead to your benefit payments being stopped.
  • Forms related to your self-assessment tax return, leading to a fine.

Abusive tactics involving mail

Ways in which an abuser might use your mail include:

  • Using information sent through the post to take control of your finances.
  • Taking out credit in your name. This may include applying for loans, taking your applications or paperwork for a credit card or mortgage, or forging your signature on documents.
  • Changing accounts into your name and then stopping payments.
  • Checking how much money you have.
  • Checking what you have spent money on.
  • Controlling how much of your own money you can spend.
  • Using new debit cards and PINs to transfer, spend or withdraw money from your account.
  • Taking cash sent through the post by family.

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.

“My ex-husband deliberately got me into debt and applied for loans in my name without my knowledge. I was the only one working so he would stay at home all day then hide the letters which came through the post. Even after I ended the relationship and the police removed him from the property, he would break in and steal post. I missed lots of warning letters from creditors and didn’t even know I was being made bankrupt until papers were served on me.”

How Royal Mail can help

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:

  • Delivery – Royal Mail gives you an address that you can give to others, but the mail is delivered to your actual address.
  • Collect – Royal Mail holds your mail for you to collect from your local Royal Mail Customer Service Point.
  • Transfer – Royal Mail holds the mail addressed to the PO Box as well as mail sent to your actual address. You collect all your mail from your local Customer Service Point.

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.

Online Safe Spaces

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.

Bank letters

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.

We have more information about how banks can help you if you are experiencing economic abuse.

Receiving the abuser’s mail

An abuser may continue to use your address for their post even after separation. Royal Mail recommends:

  • crossing out the address on the envelope
  • marking it with ‘not known at this address’ or ‘no longer lives here’
  • put the envelope back in a post box.

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.

‘Address & Collect’

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

Further support 

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.