#24 Address Change Fraud
Identity thieves have been known to use the United States Postal Service address change cards to reroute mail with the objective of stealing personal information from a targeted victim. The U.S. Postal Service offers a few ways for citizens to conveniently change their address – their online change of address forms require verification through a $1.00 bank withdrawal. Criminals are opting for another route – physical cards that only need a signature and can be mailed into the U.S. Postal Service. Because the cards can be delivered by mail to a post office, identity thieves don’t have to risk showing their face in person and can automatically divert a victim’s mail to a new address.
In an attempt to stop the fraudulent change of address scams, the postal service will now send a verification letter to both the new and the old addresses when a change of address is requested. If the change was not authorized, there is a telephone number to call to inform the system of fraudulent activity.
However, like all other “snail mail”, it takes a few days for the verification letter to arrive. In the meantime, re-routed mail is now being sent to the new address. This can include forwarded credit card bills, bank statements, retirement account details, and more. All of this information can be used to create a profile on the victim which will subsequently be used to commit identity theft in the victim’s name.
Two Signs that You May Have Fallen Victim to Fraudulent Address Change:
Mail volume has decreased – With access to financial statements online, it is not uncommon these days to have several days pass during which no mail is delivered. However, what is uncommon with the prevalence of mail marketing, bills, and statements, is going more than a few days without receiving any mail of substance. If your mail volume has dropped significantly for a long period of time, it might be a sign that someone has changed your address without your knowledge.
Credit report states a different address – Even with up-to-date databases, it can take a while to see certain transactions on your credit profile. If you see that a new account has been opened in your name or if your credit has been pulled by a lender, it may point to fraud, and that may be hidden from you by the criminal’s action of having changed your address. Although this method of detection isn’t the best indicator of fraudulent address change because it isn’t always detected, in some cases it can point to an unknown address change.
Some Credit monitoring services can alert you to this type of fraud but not every time.
LibertyID will take the following steps for/with their members:
- Contact the United States Postal Service and inform them of the identity theft fraud and correct the issue
- Place fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies
- File report with FTC
- File a police report
- Review credit reports with the victim to ensure there are no other types of fraud
- Provide credit monitoring with alerts for 12 months
- Periodically contact the member throughout the 12 months following resolution of their ID theft recovery case if warranted