You’ve probably made a move at least once in your life. Remember filling out the Change of Address form with the U.S Postal Service and how easy it was? Most of the time, identity thieves will go to great lengths to steal your identity. But sometimes, scammers find a relatively easy way to do it – like through the post office’s change of address system. As you most likely recall, all that’s needed to submit a change of address with the United States Postal Service is your name, your address and your (or forged) signature on the form. That’s right – no identification is required. Instead you will be mailed a notice confirming the chance of address. But, that’s easy to miss or ignore. And, if you do nothing, the change is finalized.
And if you’re making the necessary changes online, USPS requires a valid credit or debit card as an identity check for online changes of address, charging a nominal $1 fee. The agency also requires a valid e-mail address for confirmation purposes. In theory, this SHOULD stop most fraudulent applications, but if an identity thief already has a fraudulent card in your name or access to your accounts, it easy to bypass this preventative measure.
So how can you protect yourself? Here’s how:
Don’t throw away USPS notices
After a change of address is processed, USPS sends a confirmation notification letter to both your address and the forwarding address. Be careful not to mistake it for junk mail.
Put it under lock and key
Putting a lock on your mailbox is one way you can keep criminals from stealing your personal information.
Note missing mail
Letters addressed to “occupant” or resident will keep coming after the change of address is completed. But if you do not receive mail addressed to your name for several days, you may want to consider contacting your local post office to determine if you’ve been victimized.
routinely check your credit report and review your credit card statements for any unexplained activity.
Who to call for help
If you do become a victim of identity theft and the USPS is involved, call the Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.in all time zones, and select Option 4 for “Mail fraud issues.” You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is the federal clearinghouse for complaints of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to pursue criminal cases, the Commission can assist victims of identity theft by providing them with the information to help them resolve the financial repercussions that can result from identity theft. You can also visit their website, which is a one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. Below you will find additional contact information for the FTC:
Toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338)
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20580