This article is based on the AskReddit question “What was the most worrying letter you’ve ever gotten in the mail?”
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
1. Wrong birth date
I received a letter telling me that because I had failed to sign up for the draft, I would be facing a fine and prison time.
Thing is, I did sign up for it when I had gone to college. They put down the wrong birthday and it registered as me never signing up. I got that one cleared up extremely quickly.
2. When the hospital makes a mistake
My wonderful son came 6 weeks early and spent 11 days in NICU. A couple months after he was home, we got a letter in the mail from insurance basically saying that since he was so far along (34 weeks), he should’ve only been in NICU 5 days, so they’re not paying the last 6 days.
The final bill with our name on it? $47,000.
I called around, found out the hospital failed to send their records to the insurance company that stated that he had sleep apnea, making his stay get extended. Once they actually got the records, everything was cleared up. We then only owed our $1000 deductible.
During my sophomore year of high school, my school mailed a letter to my parents threatening to bring them to court if I continued to be absent. So, that’s how my parents found out that I had been calling in for myself an absurd amount of times using my “old guy” voice. They were less than amused.
4. Court mail
I received a summons to appear in court. I was completely flabbergasted, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. An unpaid parking ticket? A noise complaint from the neighbors?
It took me about 10 seconds to realize it was for jury duty.
5. The biological family member
Back when we were in the process of fostering our middle kid, I got a letter saying that his biological grandmother was going to be fighting for custody. We had never heard of her before. My son was placed with us at 7 months old and we got this letter shortly after his second birthday. We were starting to move forward with the adoption process to make it final.
We ended up going forward with the custody battle. At the time, our state gave preference to biological families. Even though we were the only parents our son had ever known, there was a chance that he would be leaving our family to go live with a woman he had never met before. After a couple of months, his grandmother ended up dropping the case. We agreed to have meetings with her, but she wasn’t interested. My son is 10 now and we haven’t heard from her since then.
It’s still kind of crazy to imagine him not being in our lives. That letter was one of the scariest things to ever happen to our family.
6. A letter regarding blood donation
I received a letter after donating blood years ago with a big PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL and IMPORTANT on it. Letter states I had a false positive on the necessary HIV screening. It had huge markers insisting I did not have HIV but they were required to notify me.
Apparently certain auto-immune diseases (which I have) can cause the pre-screen to test false positive but after all additional testing, they confirmed it was negative. Considering I had no risk factors besides medical procedures, it was a huge heart attack day for me. Took a while for me to calm down and a few more blood tests.
7. This insurance company mock up
Apply for life insurance, and about four weeks later a letter showed up in the mail from them period when I pulled it out of the envelope it indicated that I had tested positive for HIV. I fell to my knees and let out a strangled scream, then turn the piece of paper over and noticed that it was a negative HIV test on the back. The the insurance company used the same piece of paper with two different forms on the front and back which resulted in me calling the president of the insurance company and yell at him.
8. University rejection letter
A grad school rejection letter to a state university I really should’ve gotten into. I later found out their reason for rejection was more a disagreement with my previous program.
Fortunately, I got into an even better state university than that one so there is that!
9. What to do now ?
A letter from the Serbian army telling me that now that I was of legal age I was to report for duty.
But then I remembered I’m a Canadian citizen! But still was worried because I had a trip planned to Serbia and wasn’t sure if they could just keep me there when I tried to leave.
10. Mini panic!
I am BRCA 1 positive, which long story short means my chances of developing breast cancer are 85% and I’ll be getting a mastectomy at some point. However, because I am only 22, they won’t do any kind of scans or tests yet (which is fine, whatever). But I went to Patient First some time last year for bronchitis, and they did a chest xray. A week or two later, I got a letter in the mail that basically said, “Please give us a call immediately regarding the following test: chest xray.” My first thought was that there was a lump or some kind of visible mass in my breast that they were able to see.
Turns out they just wanted to tell me that the actual tech looked at my xray too and wanted to confirm that nothing was wrong.
11. The power bill
I once got a letter from my local power utility telling me I owed over $900 and that this was my third and final warning before they shut off my power. Whoa what!? What did I do? I’ve been paying bills!
Then I read the address on the envelope.
That’s how I found out my neighbor was going into foreclosure. The mailman mis-delivered mail and I just opened it assuming it was mine without ever reading the address on the envelope.
The second most worrying was from the same power utility for a $700 bill in a single month alleging I used 3 months worth of gas in a single hour on a single random Tuesday afternoon. The meter was busted. I had to pay it while they investigated. But it was nice having no power bill for 3 months in a row once they decided that it was a mistake on their end.
12. The brick thief
When we were doing some renovations outside and one of the neighbours was convinced our builder climbed over her fence and stole 2 bricks from a stack of bricks she kept in her garden. Our builder had more than enough supplies of his own. She left a note demanding we return the bricks or she would call the police. The concern was more for her sanity than anything else. I don’t think she ever reprimanded her vagrant bricks.
13. Blood testing
After donating blood, the Red Cross sent me a letter informing me that my blood may have made someone sick, so I should probably come in for testing for a chronic illness. Felt like I had every symptom for the two weeks before I could schedule that…
I received a letter of acceptance to a prestigious paid internship that would have seriously kickstarted my career. I cried, I told my parents, I went out to celebrate with my friends.
A week later, I got a letter stating the first letter was an error and I hadn’t been accepted after all. The thing is, I had kept my application a secret so I wouldn’t have to tell my friends and family the bad news if I didn’t get in. Then after I told everybody, I had to tell them all that I was, in fact, a giant loser with no career.
15. Drunk shenanigans and a letter from college
It all started after a week at a college in upstate NY. I was up there with a friend for a concert – a concert that I don’t remember. I got incredibly drunk as did my friends and none of us remembered anything. A week later I was woken up by one of my parents who was tearing into me and wondering what happened one my little vacation. I claimed ignorance; and my parent pulled a letter out from behind their back that had the crest of said college as well as it’s name. As the message went on, I got more and more worried but luckily the letter didn’t go into detail. However, it did say that I am banned for life from said college and if I am ever caught on their property again I will be subject to at least a $250 fine for trespassing.
16. The eviction case
An eviction notice (actual court papers) for non-payment of rent. I just about lost my mind, rent was paid a day late (I had told my landlord it would be and there wasn’t an issue) and deducted from my account and everything, late fee paid too. Never got a notice posted or sent to me. I frantically called my landlord and they didn’t pick up. Emailed the office and they seemed confused, they said my account looked good and there would not be an eviction. I had to send a picture of the eviction papers I got before they took me seriously and had the eviction case dropped.
17. Car plates
Got a notice for a toll evasion with a picture of a car that looked like mine, had the same license plate and state but I knew it wasn’t mine and couldn’t have been my car (I had my car with me that day and wasn’t in that area) – turns out someone found my car, manufactured license plates with my plate. Number and likes to evade tolls on my behalf – I was able to prove it thanks to my friend that pointed out the fonts were wrong in the picture.
I have since returned my plates and have a receipt that I surrendered my plates and it’s on my DMV abstract that I surrender my plates (the supervisor at the DMV showed me his computer screen) but to this day I still get toll evasion notices and fines I get to try and defend myself again – it’s easy, but also a pain in the butt.
So far it’s happened in 4 states about 7 times total. I’ve moved since and have another new set of plates from another state. So here is hoping it stops.
18. The anonymous letters
Last year an ex-boyfriend wrote “anonymous” letters to both my dad and boss telling them about my sexual history, past drug use and reproductive choices only deeply personal details he would know. We broke up in 2009 and had very little contact since then. He sent similar letters to families and employers of other former lovers and friends, and had been arrested for harassing communications before, so I absolutely knew it was him.
I reported it to the police.
19. So thats where uncle Jim was all these years
When I was 8 I got a birthday card from someone that claimed to be my “Uncle Jim”, whom I’d never heard of before, and he wrote an oddly specific letter about my family and my life. This was less than a week after we had been learning about “Stranger Danger” in school and I was terrified so I showed my mom and that’s when I learned “Uncle Jim” had just been released from prison after serving 20 years for meth manufacturing.
20. The good and the bad of eviction letter
I was renting a house from some guy and paying my $2000/month rent on time every month.
6 months in I got a letter from the county that said “this property will be auctioned on the steps of the courthouse on (date) at (time).” We had 2 weeks to get out.
My landlord not only refused to fix anything wrong with the house, but also didnt pay his mortgage with the rent I paid him.
And he got away with my $2000 security deposit.
Really it was the best thing that could have happened to me, it actually helped me get out of an abusive relationship. I was finally able to say “I’m getting my own apartment.
21. He knows about the letters
I’ve lived in my place for over 3 years, and at least twice a week we receive mail addressed to a former tenant, either to his name directly or to his “business,” (guys last name) Computing, LLC, from the IRS and various bill collectors, many with increasingly urgent and threatening “past due” and “open immediately” notices on the envelopes. We made his former roommate (who gave us a tour of the place before we signed the lease) aware of the situation and she said something like yeah… I’m pretty sure he knows about it…” We’ve never opened any of them, but I’m pretty sure whenever they track this guy down, he is going to be in some deep trouble.
22. That devil box by the road
I received a bill for $3k from the IRS regarding a filing from 4 years ago. I was absolutely broke at the time and this was pretty much going to end me. Side note, keep all tax documentation forever. Hours of work and phone calls later, I was able to re-assemble most of my tax documentation from that year in question and got my bill down to $340. But it cost so much time and stress my God it took months to resolve. Safe to say though, nothing good comes out of that devil box by the road in my experience.
23. The car accident letter
When I was 16 I had a car accident, an elderly man pulled out in front of me and I T-boned him pretty hard. I walked away but he was pretty messed up and spent a lot of time in the hospital.
He was clearly at fault, I had witnesses that supported my claim that he just pulled out in front of me leaving almost no time to stop. Insurance paid out and I got on with my life.
Three years later I received a letter from his lawyers claiming well over a million dollars in damages, outlining all the horrendous medical issues the gentleman had due to the accident. I was distraught and thought my life was over. Had visions of being dragged through the courts and of being portrayed as a monster (essentially what the letter suggested).
I took the letter to a lawyer and she asked “did his insurance pay you out?”, yep they had. Turns out that’s an admission of guilt and they had no case. She wrote a letter and I never heard another thing about it.
I still feel bad for the old guy, who would almost certainly be dead by now. I feel terrible that his final years were spent in pain and in huge financial strain from all the medial procedures. But ultimately there was not a lot I could have done to avoid it.
24. The seasonal employee
I was injured while working for a large shopping company and required surgery. Now, I was only a seasonal employee, so I knew I was not going to be able to return to work. I was still on worker’s compensation since it happened on the job.
About 2 weeks in, I receive a letter from the company telling me I had been terminated. It turned out to be an automatic form letter that was not meant to go out to me, but I was planning to work for them again later in the year (seasonally again), so I was worried that I would not be able to be rehired.
25. The medical lab bill
Some medical lab sent me a $90 or so bill for a test I never asked for that was just labeled “experimental” therefore insurance wouldn’t help me with it. I still had to pay it and to this day have no idea what it was for. All they would tell me was that it was because I wanted birth control. I blame the government being ridiculously unfair to us responsible ladies.
26. Medical school blood test results
Yearly in my medical school you have your vaccines and a blood test for the usual bloodborne illnesses, including HIV. At the test she’s like “if you don’t hear anything, that’s good, we only contact you if something is wrong”.
Cue a letter saying “important information about your blood test, please contact us IMMEDIATELY. Cease any exposure prone procedures with patients until further notice” and was otherwise terrifying. I rang and emailed and couldn’t find anyone who knew why I’d gotten such a letter. Went to OH in person and was told “oh you’ve mistakenly been put as DNA for your annual blood test, but I can see you did as your results are here… and they’re fine.”
She seemed bemused at why I had gotten so worked up, almost in a patronising “pat your head” kind of way.
27. The letter from states department of revenue
I got a letter from my state’s department of revenue stating my taxes had not been paid to the tune of thousands of dollars, and for being late some ridiculous rate of fees and interest were being added until I paid up.
Then I read the letter more closely, and found that some idiot at the DOR had taken the tax paid, applied it incorrectly, and then sent a letter out for the misapplied tax. I wrote back with a letter saying “Please notice I have paid $xxxx.xx, and that my tax bill is $xxxx.xx, and that you have that amount of money from me in an account. Please apply my tax payment to my tax bill.”
Got another letter in a month saying it was resolved and I had nothing to worry. But it was still a bit of a heart attack seeing a $5k bill from the state.
28. The emergency letter
I work at a hospital that had been targeted with anthrax once before, so when I got a white powder in a blank envelope in the mail to my office, I immediately ran out to the emergency room in a panic. On the way there, my heart racing, I remembered that I had signed up for the base hospitals anthrax training drill. Upon arrival, I was observed by the entire ER staff, on administration of the mock test.
Two LONG cotton swabs up the nose into the throat later, I was sent on my way.
29. The age difference is off
I once got a letter asking if I was the father of a kid in my state who had my first and last name. When I called the number on the letter though, the kid was 7 and I’m 19 at the time. No, I did not lose my virginity at 12.
30. Failed all exams?!
While I was studying my degree I was ill while sitting some exams, and while finishing a piece of the coursework. I got a doctors note, sat the exams, had an extra week on the assignment and did quite well. 4 months later while trapped on a Scottish island doing my dissertation (studying the local Geology) and going through a break up with my girlfriend, I got a letter from the university saying I had resits for all the exams I did while ill, like I’d failed them. Turned out I was OFFERED resits because of my mitigating circumstances but I flipped out for about two days while unable to get an answer from the uni admin team.