If you let someone else use your mailing address or you use someone else’s mailing address as your own, you may be committing address fraud, which is a serious crime punishable by jail time in some areas.

Is It Illegal for Someone to Use Your Address?

It may not explicitly be illegal for someone to use your address or if you use someone else’s address as your own, but the reason for doing so may be considered fraud. Wex, a legal dictionary, defines fraud as this:

“Fraud is deliberately deceiving someone else with the intent of causing damage. This damage need not be physical damage, in fact, it is often financial. There are many different types of fraud, for example bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, and healthcare fraud. The precise legal definition of fraud varies by jurisdiction and by the specific fraud offense.”

If someone else uses your address and causes some damage — such as evading certain taxes or benefitting from a better public school district — he or she may be committing fraud, depending on how the criminal laws in your jurisdiction are written. In Wisconsin, for example, the state specifically defines mail fraud. In federal law, there’s an entire chapter of criminal law on fraud and false statements.

Legal Ramifications of Using a False Address

There is federal- and state-level legislation against the intentional misrepresentation of physical address, which would apply to using someone else’s address or letting someone else use yours. According to U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 63, Section 1342, using a fictitious or false name or address for any sort of fraudulent intent or scheme can lead to fines and up to five years in jail.

Using a false address can also lead to legal ramifications on a state level. For example, Florida state law specifies that using someone else’s name or address without his or her knowledge in order to obtain refunds or merchandise from business establishments is a second-degree misdemeanor (s 817.037), which is punishable by up to 60 days of jail time or $500 in fines. And the Wisconsin law we cited above names mail fraud a Class H felony, punishable by fines up to $10,000, prison terms of up to six years, or both.

For specific laws in your area, see the Legal Information Institute’s state law directory.

In Summary

If you let someone else use your mailing address or you use someone else’s mailing address, it’s the intent that makes this a punishable crime on a federal and/or state level. Legal ramifications of fraud include fines and/or jail time. In general, it is not a good idea to use someone else’s address as your own or to let someone else use your address as their own.