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Defeating baliffs who tell me to open someone else’s mail…

Defeating baliffs who tell me to open someone else’s mail…

Since we moved into our new flat, we’ve been getting bills aimed at the previous tenants, who manifestly never paid the bills or left a forwarding address. We’ve also seen the odd debt collector lurking on the street, gathering data and waiting for the previous tenant to show up.

Last night, I came home to find someone in a car parked on our street, and an open letter stating they would remove household goods unless we responded by 6pm that evening. We called the baliff, told him that it wasn’t us who owed the money – and that we could prove it etc. He then told us to open a previous letter addressed to the debtor, so we could tell head office not to hassle us any more. When I pointed out that opening someone else’s mail is not something we’re going to do, he insisted that we had to open it to get the details, as he didn’t have them.

a) Is opening someone else’s mail illegal under British law? Could I be made accountable for that person’s debt if I do open said mail?

b) What can I do to stop baliffs hassling us? Especially if I don’t know who they are?

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