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How to Avoid Change-of-Address Scams

Monday, April 24, 2023

The big day is approaching! You are brimming with excitement, impatient to start a new life in a new place. To ensure you did not miss anything, you again flip through the moving checklist pinned to your ready-to-be-moved fridge and freeze. A line wasn’t ticked off, the one prompting you to notify the post office of your change of address.

Just like most people would, you head to the internet and search for “change of address” or “address change US postal service”. You will find that updating your mailing address online is a fast and simple procedure. The problem is that you may click on a link that leads straight to a change-of-address scam site.

Change-of-address scams can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. However, some scammers create scam websites that target people who plan to relocate. According to the Better Business Bureau, these sites proliferate during the moving season, roughly between May and September.

Requesting an address update on a fraudulent site can land you in big trouble. Read on to find out how change-of-address scam sites work, how to recognize them, and what to do if you’ve fallen victim to one of them.

A hacker typing on a laptop

Why You Should Change Your Address When Moving

Every time you move, you need to update your address with all relevant institutions and organizations, such as your bank, insurance company, and internal revenue services. 

You should also notify the post office, even if you receive all your bills and statements online. After all, there is always a chance that someone will send you a greeting card or a package. Besides, some official papers always go out by mail.

How to Change Your Address with the Post Office

The process of rerouting your mail with the United States Postal Service (USPS) is simple. There are two ways to go about it:

  • Visit your local post office and fill in the change-of-address form. Then give it to the postal employee or drop it into the letter mail slot inside the post office. This service is free of charge.
  • Go to the USPS website, provide the requested information, and pay a small fee of $1.10.

And that’s about it! Your mail will be sent to your new address. Do note that the USPS can take up to ten days to forward mail to the updated address. 

After effecting the change of address, the USPS will send a validation letter to your old and your new address. This letter may take several weeks to reach you.

What Are the Change-of-Address Scam Sites?

While it is great that the change of address postal service online is so simple and hassle-free, the simplicity of the process carries some potential dangers.

It is easy for scammers to create an online portal that mimics the official USPS website, with a similar design and logos. The site tricks you into believing you are at the right place and asks you to pay an exuberant fee, sometimes as much as $80, for a change of address request. 

Some of these websites may proceed to change your address with USPS. This will cost them $1.10, which means they pocket the rest of the money. 

Other change-of-address scam sites do not even bother to do the work. They just take your money without updating your mailing address.

 A worried man over 50 holding his head as he was scammed online trying to change his address

Why Is It Important to Avoid Change-of-Address Online Scams?  

If the scammers charge you $80 for a service that costs $1.10, you will be $78.90 out of pocket. 

Provided the scammers do the legwork and change your address for you, that could be the sum of your losses (not counting the obvious emotional distress). 

If they take the money and do not update your address, you could miss making payments or renewing your driver's license.  

In either case, the criminals behind the change-of-address scam sites could decide to try their luck and pile more charges on your credit or debit card later. 

Even worse, they may redirect all your mail to an address you did not authorize and access your personal information, such as bank statements or credit card bills. Criminals can then steal your identity, landing you in serious financial and credit problems. 

Post Office Change of Address Scam 

Your address could be fraudulently changed even if you did not request mail rerouting on a change-of-address scam website. 

Address fraud is one of the easiest identity thefts to pull off. The criminals only need your name and current address. With that information, they can go to a post office, fill in the change-of-address form, forge the signature, and drop the paperwork into the mail slot. 

Your correspondence will be redirected without your knowledge, and the criminals may gain access to the information that enables them to steal your identity.

How to Avoid Change-of-Address Online Scams

While it is not possible to protect yourself entirely from address fraud, there are several things you can do to lower your risk. Keep your eyes open and follow these best-practice guidelines: 

  • Use the USPS official website to update your address when moving.  
  • Check that you are on the right and secure website. Secure sites start with https and have a lock icon. 
  • Several legitimate third-party websites affiliated with USPS offer the address update service but be wary of the ones that charge too much and do not have a working customer service number or physical address. Scam sites often also have typos and grammatical errors. 
  • When paying online, use your credit card. This payment method may allow you to dispute fraudulent charges. Of course, you also need to check your credit card statements regularly.

Warning Signs of Change-of-Address Scams

Despite all precautions, it is easy to fall victim to an online or offline address scam. The sooner you notice the warning signs that may suggest someone is diverting your mail, the less damage you are likely to suffer. Here’s what to look out for: 

  • You receive a change-of-address validation letter from the USPS even though you did not request this service. 
  • You do not receive a change-of-address validation letter from the USPS two or three weeks after requesting it. 
  • You suddenly stop receiving the usual amount of mail. 
  • You try to use your credit or debit card and get a notification that your billing address is incorrect.
  • You notice unusual charges on your credit or debit card. 
  • You get notified that an account you never signed up for has been opened with a store or a bank.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Change-of-Address Scam

If your address has not been updated or you suspect you have become a victim of a change-of-address scam, immediately contact your post office, bank, and all other institutions and organizations you are affiliated with.

Further, report the fraud to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, and the Federal Trade Commission

It is also a good idea to contact your local police department. This can protect you if someone assumes your identity to commit a crime. 

Your reports could help authorities to track down the criminals.

A smiling retired woman looking at her tablet

Trust Shyft with Your Move

Moving can be a time of great excitement and commotion. It can also be a stressful time. With some due diligence, you can avoid the additional headaches that change-of-address scams cause.

When AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft handles your move, you will not have to worry about things going wrong with the actual process of relocation. Shyft is an online moving platform that connects you with reliable moving companies, saving you time and money. Moreover, Shyft has a platform designed to offer high-quality relocation services to one specific demographic group, people over 50.

So, if you are over 50 and planning to move, don’t think twice about it. Trust Shyft with your move. A smooth experience and a sizable discount await you!

All you need to do is download Shyft’s free mobile app for iPhone or Android, and schedule a video call online or by phone at 1-888-501-3181.

A Shyft representative, your dedicated Move Coach, will video-call you at the time you set. During the video call with your Move Coach, which usually lasts about 30 minutes, point the camera on your device at the items you want to take to your new home. That’s all it takes for your Move Coach to create an inventory list.

While your Move Coach is putting together the list of your belongings, you may chat with them and request additional services, such as packing or moving insurance. Your Move Coach will advise you about your options and approximate costs. Since Shyft has a network of hundreds of reliable moving companies, you can select the moving service that best suits your needs and budget.

About half an hour after the video call, your Move Coach will send you an inventory list. The list is about 95% accurate. You can add or remove items and services to make it 100% accurate. 

Your complete inventory list with details such as moving distance (without your personal information) goes to a secure Shyft platform. This is where verified moving companies submit their offers. They essentially bid against each other, which ensures you get the most competitive pricing.

Shyft will send you three or more top quotes, and it is up to you to select the mover that suits you best. When you accept a quote, the price becomes locked. You will know in advance how much you will pay. You can rest assured that there will be no nasty surprises at the end of the road. The total cost of your move can only change if you add or remove items, alter the move distance, or fail to book the service before the quote expires. 

You do not have to worry about which company handles the move. Your dedicated Move Coach will oversee the entire process from beginning to end, ensuring that the same quality standards apply to all. Shyft is available around the clock to make your relocation as smooth and stress-free as possible. 

As an AARP member, you get up to a $250 discount for every move you book, no matter how many times you move and where you move to.

Visit AARP Moving Services powered by Shyft website or call 1-888-501-3181 to learn more about the best way to move home. Also, remember to download the Shyft moving checklist so you don’t forget anything important.

Shyft is there for you 24/7. Book your move now and save up to $250.

Get Free Moving Quotes