Can You Refuse Certified Mail?
During colonial times in the United States, there was no mail delivery system in place. Typically, people left their mail at inns and taverns through the 1600s and most of the 1700s.
In 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States postal system, with Benjamin Franklin acting as the first postmaster general.
He set up new colonial routes that were more efficient and cut mail times in half. He also inaugurated the first weight chart, so that delivery costs could be based on weight and distance.
Nowadays, there are many ways to send something via mail, and you can even track what you send.
But what happens if you refuse certified mail? What happens if you don't want something you're supposed to sign for? Are you allowed to refuse it in the first place?
Keep reading to find out all about certified mail, if you're allowed to refuse it, and what happens if you do.
What Is Certified Mail?
Certified mail is a delivery service. And it's one in which the sender gets a certificate or receipt indicating that their mail has been sent.
The recipient has to give their signature when they receive the Certified Mail. And, the sender can see when that mail's delivered.
Sometimes people confuse Certified Mail with Registered Mail. Registered mail also provides the sender a receipt when it's sent and delivered. But it's also tracked and recorded by each post office location and letter carrier that handles the piece of mail along the way. This is how jewelry and money are sent. Every USPS employee that handles Registered Mail must account for its safe delivery.
This is just added protection to ensure there is no loss, theft, or damage done to that piece of mail. With registered mail, you can track your package along its journey so that you know where it is at all times.
Why Do People Use Certified Mail?
Government agencies and law firms use certified mail often so that they can keep track of important documents and know when they've made their final destination.
Important contracts, tax audits, and court papers are all examples of crucial documents that can't be entrusted with regular mail.
Certified mail isn't always negative. A lawyer might be trying to contact you to inform you of an estate that's been left to you, for example.
If you're presented with certified mail, it's always best to know what's in it rather than wonder.
Can You Refuse Certified Mail?
If an attempt is made to deliver certified mail to you, and you either don't answer your door or aren't home, another attempt will be made, or you'll have to pick it up at the post office.
Even if you don't answer your door, it's considered undeliverable. You can only refuse it if the clerk has a chance to present it to you and you explicitly say that you don't want it.
It's not illegal to refuse it. You can ask the clerk for the name and address of the sender before you decide whether or not you want it.
However, once it's in your hands and you sign for it, you can't give it back or reject its contents.
There Are Consequences
It's not illegal to refuse certified mail. And if you have no idea what it is or who the person is who sent it, it makes sense to be wary of it.
However, there may be consequences for refusing certified mail.
It can count against you if the sender has to hire a process server to complete the task. Following a court order, they may be able to recoup their fees from you for having to send a process server.
The process varies from state to state. But if the sending party can prove that they made every attempt to send and deliver Certified Mail to you and you refused it, the court may pass judgment that's in favor of the sender.
If the court deems that the sender did everything in their power to bring you to court, but you rejected the notice every time, it's possible that you'll be held accountable.
What If It's for a Lawsuit?
If someone sends you Certified Mail pertaining to a lawsuit, once you sign for it, you have 28 days to file your answer.
If you refuse to sign for it, the chances are that the sender or court will send you the same documentation via regular mail. Once it's sent by regular mail, they'll consider it delivered.
In that situation, you may find yourself in a situation where you're surprised by the fact that you've been ordered to appear in court at a certain time.
Say the court determines that you owe someone money. Once the judgment has been granted, the creditor's attorney could very well attempt to automatically withdraw money from your account to pay what you owe.
For this to happen, the attorney has to file an order with the court. If you have any money that should be exempt or you disagree with the court order, you'll have to file an appeal or demonstrate what money is exempt.
If you never do so, the court won't know about the exemptions, and your money will get taken from your account.
It's Usually Best Not to Refuse Certified Mail
Tax notices, evictions, and or being summoned to court are all things that won't go away just because you refuse certified mail. If the IRS sends you a tax demand and you refuse it, you might miss your deadline to appeal or set up a payment plan.
If a distant family member passes and the lawyer sent you pertinent information about their passing or something they've left you in their will, you'd never know if you refuse the documentation!
Are you looking to send something certified of your own and want to get an idea of prices in 2019? They're outlined here.