Did you know that identity thieves can redirect your mail and receive bills, financial statements, and other mail with sensitive information? They can then use that information to open new credit accounts in your name. They can also use your existing credit accounts fraudulently, but how do they do this, and how can you protect yourself from them?
How Identity Thieves Change Your Address?
USPS has simplified the process or redirecting your mail after moving. You don’t need to visit your local post office, just to fill out the address change request forms online or call.
When filling out the form online, you’ll be asked for your name, your current address, and a valid debit or credit card. However, the card won’t be billed to your current or new address.
Moreover, you won’t be required to provide your social security number, and there a no knowledge-based questions asked. With so little information necessary to enable a change of address, a thief may have no trouble doing so on your behalf.
Once the change of address is affected, your mail will be redirected to the appointed address for up to a year.
How Fraudsters Use Redirected Mail
A fraudulent change of address is used largely to facilitate identity-theft related activities, including filing fraudulent tax returns and opening credit card accounts in your name.
Moreover, by diverting your mail, fraudsters can intercept various letters and deliveries that contain information they can use to swindle people and institutions in your name.
Keep in mind that when your mail is diverted, you won’t be receiving it for up to one year. This leaves fraudsters plenty of time to do damage in your name before you discover what’s going on.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Change of Address Fraudsters?
There are several things you can do to ensure you are safe from address fraud:
Be wary of unsolicited USPS confirmation letters
When you request a change of address, the USPS will send a confirmation letter to both your former and current address via postal mail. So, if you receive such a letter without having recently applied for a change of address, then most probably someone is trying to change your address fraudulently. Don’t hesitate to notify USPS that you didn’t request an address change.
Keep track of your mail
If you normally receive a lot of mail and that number starts dwindling, or occasionally you don’t receive the mail you expect, chances are your mail is going to another address. The earlier you address the concern with USPS the better.
Check your credit reports regularly
We’ve seen that identity thieves can use information from the diverted mail to open new credit accounts in your name or use the existing accounts to perform fraudulent activities. When you review your credit reports regularly, you can easily identify any inconsistencies and address them before any significant damage is done.
Following these tips will take you a long way into minimizing your risk of becoming a victim of a fraudulent address change.