Good Question: Change of address scams
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We want to introduce you to Jill Gallipeau. She lives in Brighton.
Gallipeau is frustrated and came to News10NBC’s for answers when she ran into a problem late in the fall.
Gallipeau: My question is, why is it so easy for anyone to change anyone’s address?
The first sign something was up? A stranger tried to get a new credit card through her bank. She only found out when the bank sent her an e-mail.
Then, just days later, came a second sign of trouble. An official change of address confirmation packet from the postal service showed up in her mailbox. She could’ve easily tossed it thinking it was junk.
Gallipeau: Luckily, I didn’t ignore it. And I went down to our the closest post office and asked them about it and they said, yeah, there’s a change of address put in for you. I’m assuming it’s connected to the Bank of America’s scam because how else would they get their card that they’re waiting for?
Can it really be that easy to change an address? This is USPS, a massive federal entity. There are protections in place but thieves are using a simple work around.
Filing a change of address is free to do through the mail or in-person. It’s $1.05 to do it online. All someone needs is a name, e-mail address, the old physical address, and the new one.
The USPS stands by the built in backups to catch fraud.
A spokesperson told Somers:
The Postal Service has systems in place to protect customers against unauthorized address changes. If a change of address has been submitted for a customer, the Postal Service will follow up with a Move Validation Letter. This letter is sent to the customer’s current address and notifies them that a request has been made to forward their mail to a new address. In addition, the $1.05 charge to the customer’s credit card is an identity verification fee to prevent fraud. If you notice a charge on your credit card statement that you did not initiate, that’s another indicator of potential fraud.
If the customer did not request to change their address, the customer should inform their local Post Office immediately as a potentially fraudulent situation may exist. Customers who believe they are the victim of mail theft, mail fraud or another crime involving the mail, they can make a report to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 or online at www.uspis.gov.
But again, it’s free in-person or by mail and that’s how scammers are apparently pulling it off.
How bad could this have been for Gallipeau? Someone could wipe out her savings or rack up thousands on new credit card bills. Another bank actually caught a second card application trying to get through. However, because she already had one problem and froze her credit it got denied.