In March 7th’s Scam of the day I warned 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 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.
Making the problem worse is the fact that despite a recommendation from the USPS Office of Inspector General back in 2018 to require some form of identification be presented when someone submits a change of address form, the USPS still does not do so making it extremely easy for an identity thief to perpetrate this crime.
Now, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer is taking action to remedy this problem. He has sent a letter to the Postmaster General demanding answers as to how the Postmaster General is going to deal with this problem. Congressman Gottheimer also included in his letter some common sense proposed changes to the present system including requiring a government issued ID in order to change an address, dual factor authentication when address changes are attempted to be made online and the ability for people to freeze address changes just as you can freeze your credit. All of these proposed changes make a lot of sense.
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.
Another step you can take to protect your mail is to enroll in the Informed Delivery Program. The Informed Delivery Program is a free service of the U.S. Postal Service that will send you an email each morning with images of the mail you will be receiving later that day. In this way, if someone were to have changed your address, you would be alerted to it right away. Here is the link where you can sign up for Informed Delivery https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action
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