Mistaken identity by USPS?

This one is a head-scratcher. I received this postcard today and sat down to register it, thinking it was an official PC card.

But then I also noticed …

  • Written in Mandarin (my profile doesn’t indicate that as a preferred language)
  • No ID number
  • Unusual postmark
  • Wrong address, not even remotely similar to mine
  • Address sequenced incorrectly, but all the components are there
  • Correct first name
  • 98% similar last name

There’s no orange/black line to indicate machine sorting. Somehow this card, intended for my doppelgänger in California, made its way to me in North Carolina. I’m thinking there was manual sorting involved? I’ve heard of mail carriers assuming the wrong recipient on one street or in an apt building, but what about on the other side of the country?


It doesn’t actually sound like a Postcrossing-related card. It sounds like a Chinese tourist sending a card to her friend in California, complete with a cancellation from the Silja Symphony ferry on which the tourist was probably a passenger. Why it arrived at YOUR address, however, is a case for Sherlock Holmes. Have you tried Googling the address on the card, and maybe contacting the intended recipient?

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Yup, I concur.

That’s where I wonder if my involvement in PC made a USPS employee jump to an assumption. Instead of actually looking at the address, which had all the info needed to get the card to its intended recipient.

I’m planning to mail the card to her in an envelope with the correctly formatted address. :mailbox_with_mail:


Send it on to Irvine CA. Likely a machine error. Ive recieved a Informed Deuevery notice of a card
Addresed to a Michigan address was to come to my box but in the end it never did. Just a strange coincidence. At least you will have an interesting story to tell the person you send it to.

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This sort of happened to me recently except the recipient’s name is nothing remotely like mine. I can only imagine that the postcard was stuck to another Postcrossing postcard from France that was actually meant for me and the USPS just assumed all the postcards from France were for me. I ended up sticking it in an envelope and sending it back across the country.


i think my letter carrier does this :joy: i seem to get all the postcards on his route no matter what the address or name is and this is with my letter carrier knowing who i am. i am just the designated postcard lady lol i just plop them back into the mailstream (or return them to the post office) and they seem to get to the right place the second time around!


The card seems to be a Finnish one, from the serie Kehvola. It is sent from the ferry Silja Symhony and its Moomin stamp is postmarked in Helsinki Finland. The handwriting is clearly written by a Chinese person. The rest of this story is ???

Exactly why I’m so befuddled by how this card came to me. :smiley: There’s no shared postal route to speak of, other than entry into the US. California and NC are a long ways away.

If our names almost matching is a coincidence, like @princeofasturias proposes, then it feels unbelievable.

It happened again! :smiley: This time, an official PC card from Japan to Tennessee made its way to me one state and many ZIP codes over. I think if I drop it in outgoing as is, the card will make its way to the correct recipient, but I’m thinking I’ll put it in an envelope with a note.

Envelope with note :+1:

I wonder now if my lost cards just ended up in someone else’s mailbox… Very curious, maybe you are some kind of a magnet for postage!

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Mystery (sort of) solved. Today, I received a PC card from the same sender, this time addressed to me. The JP card ID was off by 8, so they must’ve been sent out at the same time and travelled together. Though it’s funny I received the incorrect one before the correct one


this can happen. It happened to me twice that a postcard was forwarded to me - one from CZ that was sent to a postcrosser in the USA (I’m in Germany) and one from Russia, that was delivered to someone not that far from me. Both times names as well as addresses were not similar at all.
One I have received an official card from Russia that was not meant for me. Luckily I found out before registering the card. I always read the message right before registering and wondered why I was addressed by the wrong name. This one was to a lady in my postcrode area but name and street were not similar at all to mine.

Strange, how mail travelles sometimes. Makes me wonder about all my expired cards

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One of my RAS cards was attached to another post card I sent (different person, different place). It was stuck to the sticky strip that the post office uses. Luckily the person that got the extra card was nice enough to take it to the post office and it continued on it’s journey.


My understanding is that the PC system only recognizes the logged-in user ID of the intended recipient when registering cards. Worst case, you would’ve gotten an error message since the card didn’t “belong” to you.


The US Postal service has a format called Informed delivery. They send out an email to you and shows you photos of what mail you are receiving that day. The photos are black and white taken as the mail is sorted. Recently I had a postcard that day (an official) and another picture of a card for a person 2 states away with a different name than mine. But the card to the other person was official and appeared to be sent by the same sender in an European country. I never received that card but I thought it was odd being the photo should have been taken in another state at the sorting facility different than mine.

Yes, that is right.
It isn’t possible to register a card that is not for you.

not sure if addressed, but majority of mail is process by a sorting machine. this machine reads many pieces of mail per second, printing a black barcode on the address side and a red barcode on the back of each item. the machine might misread the address and end up elsewhere. a reason a person in the usa might get a postcard not addressed to them is because postcards can get stuck to each other. if this happens the front card with address will get the black barcode, but the card stuck behind it would get the red barcode. the card on its process will get unstuck and then the sorting machine re-read the postcard at the next sorting machine, will read the red barcode. i have received postcards not addressed to myself. that is what my postmistress told me, and she crosses out the front black barcode and back red barcode before putting it back into the system. but i must say we live in a small rural area and she put all postcards arriving at our post office in my box. if its not for me (it happens once in a while), i would give it to the person or return it back to the post office to put in the correct box.
someone mention about usps “informed delivery”. this is not available to all customers in the usa. as my post office is rural, this is not an option. those lucky city people with paved sidewalks, natural gas hooked up to her house, city sewer and water hookups - so spoiled they are!