I have warned you a number of times in the past about the danger of identity theft that occurs when criminals steal your mail from your mailbox. Among the dangers of mail theft are criminals gathering personal information contained in your mail to set up accounts in your name or getting your credit card bill and using the information in your bill to access your credit card. However, sometimes the criminals don’t even have to steal your mail, they can get the United States Postal Service USPS) to deliver your mail directly to the criminal by submitting a change of address form with the post office on your behalf either in person or online that results in your mail being sent directly to the criminal.
One of the ways that the Postal Service tries to prevent this type of fraud is by sending a letter to your old address confirming that you wanted your mail sent to a new address, however, this can be circumvented by clever scammers who merely submit a form to the post office on your behalf to hold your mail, as many people do when they are on vacation, which enables the scammer to get extra time before the scam is discovered. Other times, the identity thieves will steal the notice from your mail knowing it is coming.
Earlier this year Jill Gallipeau of Rochester, New York fell victim to this scam when a scammer filed a change of address with her local post office and then applied for a credit card through her bank, Bank of America. Fortunately, before sending the card, Bank of America sent her a confirming email which alerted her to the fraud and she was able to contact the bank to stop the issuance of the card. A few days later the change of address confirmation letter was delivered to her and she was able to recognize how the fraud was attempted. The USPS says that it has systems to protect customers against unauthorized address changes, but those systems are woefully inadequate.
Certainly if you get a notice that a change of address form has been filed on your behalf and you have not filed such a form, you should contact the United States Postal Service immediately. Also, if you fail to receive any mail whatsoever for a couple of days, it is important to contact the post office to make sure that no one has changed your address. Remember, even paranoids have enemies.
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