Did you know that one in seven people in the United States change their address each year? Naturally, this creates a tremendous challenge for the Postal Service, which strives to maintain a high-quality repository of current addresses.

Change-of-address requests can be made in person at local Post Offices using a hardcopy form (PS 3575), or electronically using the Internet. They can even be made over the telephone. By far, the most popular way to change one’s official address is still using the hardcopy form, but those contemplating a move should consider their options carefully.

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While the Postal Service’s change-of-address process generally works properly, our audit found that improvements are needed in the way hard copy requests are processed, authorized, and validated. Although Postal Service employees should reject and return orders with no signature, in some cases change-of-address orders without a proper signature slipped through. We also saw signature mismatches and occasions when Postal Service employees rather than customers signed or initialed the forms.

Is there a better way? We think there is. Our audit also examined the Internet and telephone change request systems. We found that these electronic alternatives are not only much more convenient for the customer, they are also far more effective in ensuring that only authorized and validated change-of-address requests are processed. Digital requests can be electronically matched against customers’ credentials quickly and efficiently. This results in a more secure environment, which is important because mail diverted to another location based upon unauthorized change-of-address orders is a major contributor to identity theft — America’s fastest growing crime.

There has to be a catch, you say. Well, there is. This service costs $1. We think it’s a bargain! To change your address online, go to moversguide.usps.com. To change your address by telephone, call 1-800-275-8777.

You should know the Postal Service does have systems in place to protect customers against unauthorized address changes. If a change of address has been submitted for you, the Postal Service will follow up with a Move Validation Letter. This letter is sent to your current address and notifies you that a request has been made to forward your mail to a new address. If you did not request to change your address, you should inform your local Post Office immediately as a potentially fraudulent situation may exist. In our audit, we found that the Postal Service generally sends these letters in a timely manner. Recently, the Postal Service has taken steps to further improve the timeliness of these letters, ensuring that they are processed within 3 to 10 days.

What do you think about the Postal Service’s change-of-address process? How can it be improved?

This topic is hosted by the OIG's Information Technology audit directorate.

Comments (448)

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  • anon

    I have been getting my mail sent at this address for over 20 years and then about a week now I have not received any mail, and I feel that when I went online I gave my information to a sight where you sign up to have your credit report sent to you but it end up being a boggiest sight that I gave my information too and that is when I stop getting my mail. I think that online sight had redirected my mail to a different address and I am worried that I might be right is why I would like the USP to verify whether or not someone had my mail delivery redirected to another address and if so can you please let me know. Thank You, Benjamin Horn

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    It should be FREE to change one’s own address because USPS is already paid for by our tax dollars!

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    Did i change my address

    Jan 13, 2018
  • anon

    The forwarding service would be greatly improved if an email could *also* be sent, when a valid online account is attached to an address, upon change of address request. The process of sending a confirmation letter to your old address is not effective if, as in our case, the old address has a contracted rural mail carrier who fails to deliver 90+% of your mail (according to the number of pieces I've seen on Informed Delivery vs the number that arrive in the box). Our local postal employees say that rural carriers are only contracted to service a route, not specifically to deliver the mail, and that as non-employees of USPS, there is no way to make them do so. They also tell me it takes 150 written, formal, complaints to get a contract carrier "fired". We are also in a major mail theft area that's been investigated by OIG more than once (Kingman, AZ).

    Jan 12, 2018
  • anon

    Why was my 1.00 charge denied? Makes no sence? I tried 4 times and still wouldn't take my debit, am I going to be charged now 4x? Just wondering??

    Jan 08, 2018
  • anon

    I was charged the $1 for a change of address which was never fulfilled. The USPS did not actually perform the service that was payed for and will not do anything to fix the situation.

    Jan 04, 2018
  • anon

    I sold my house to a stranger..I changed my address to my new house the post office sends a confirmation letter with my new address and personal information.on it ..to stranger...that's crazy...it caused me lot of problems with stranger knowing my info where I lived etc...post office should not do that..

    Jan 03, 2018
  • anon

    I changed my address 3 weeks ago and I don't really think they put it in

    Jan 03, 2018
  • anon

    We are moving to California next week (My husband is in the Air Force ), but don't have a new address yet as housing is still being arranged. I need to hold my mail, but have no forwarding address.. what can I do to make sure out mail is held till my new address is established?? Thank you Michelle

    Jan 01, 2018
  • anon

    I forwarded my mail temporarily on 12/12 and have not, as of 12/30, received any mail. I contacted both my home carrier and my temporary address carrier. I contacted the post offices in both locations. I have received confirmation of change of address from the USPS. So how do I get my MAIL?

    Dec 30, 2017
  • anon

    need to know how to change address of someone that is in nursing home.. tried on line but my credit card has my name. can the address be chaged for her. this is a relative

    Dec 29, 2017
  • anon

    My wife abandoned our marriage and moved to Florida from Indiana. She claims she informed me that "I was getting mail there" I have no idea the address it's being sent to nor did I authorize any change of address. Not getting a notice from the BMV managed to cost me a nice misdemeanor charge and having to hire counsel. Be careful of mad wives!

    Dec 22, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address in California in October before I move out here. Thinking my my mail should be sent to AZ . To find out something forward my mail back to California but now I'm living in Arizona! Never got a notice from the post office so I had to do the form again and also done it online!

    Dec 21, 2017
  • anon

    I've made a change of address 2 montbs ago. I received a letter from the Post Master stating the change. It's been 2 months and I'm still not receiving any mail.

    Dec 19, 2017
  • anon

    I see lots of comments but no answers from USPS.

    Dec 16, 2017
  • anon

    I did an electronic change of address three weeks before my move and also put a note in my mailbox for the carrier. I received a new resident packet from you, but still no forwarded mail and it has been over ten working days. What am I supposed to do? Karla

    Dec 15, 2017
  • anon

    The Post Office decided to change my mailing address without my consent. I have 2 legal residences in the same city and signed a lease with a friend for a short term period. Unbeknownst to me, my mail has been going there long after I moved out and I did not want this to happen. Now a complete stranger is getting all my official mail. This is unacceptable. Send mail to the address on the letter. Not what you think the address should be.

    Dec 15, 2017
  • anon

    My old house owner moved to Texas , and he changed the address to their. However, all the mail for my family also been send to Texas. What should I do right now, and how can I get back all the mail that has been send to that address?

    Dec 13, 2017
  • anon

    In an attempt to make a change of addresses more secure, USPS came up with the online change of address process which is quick and only cost $1. However, for it to be effective can take up to weeks and in the meantime, mail will be mixed between the old and new address leading to a lot of important mail falling in between. I’d prefer a digital mailbox; I applied for a change of address one time and then never had to again no matter how many times I moved. Plus Post Scan Mail offers forwarding services so even if I’m not home, I can get my mail wherever I am.

    Dec 11, 2017
  • anon

    Why did the us postal charge me $39.95 to change address

    Dec 10, 2017
  • anon

    How do i change it to a forigen address? My loval post office doesn’t know what to do and I can’t find any information on how to tell them

    Dec 09, 2017
  • anon

    Why would the post office then send a change of address to an old address? My identity has been stolen from two addresses I lived at in the past and the thieves keep being notified of my change of address. The post office should not be sending a change of address to the old address.

    Dec 09, 2017
  • anon

    They would have to send it o your old address. If you didn’t request the change and they didn’t send the notice, you would never know there was an issue.

    Dec 11, 2017
  • anon

    You would notice when you stopped receiving mail..

    Jan 07, 2018
  • anon

    I have a confirmation code for a change of address but when I try to check it or dosent work

    Dec 07, 2017
  • anon

    My sister has moved from Independence, MO. to Ashbourne Meath, Ireland. How does she go about getting her mail forwarded to her. We have tried the online forms, but they want a State.

    Dec 07, 2017
  • anon

    We work in a homeless shelter. When our clients get back on their feet and try to put in a change of address they are rejected. The reason is they say that the shelter is a business and they are an individual. That the only thing is for them to inform everyone of their new address. This is difficult for the 450 clients we deal with.

    Dec 06, 2017
  • anon

    We keep getting mail to our address for this person: Kendra Kearns. We do not know this person, NOR has she EVER lived at our address. We have reported this matter to our local Post Office, but to no avail. We had this house built in 2005 and moved in January 19, 2006 as soon as it was finished building. So this has been our address since January 19, 2006. I would appreciate any help you can give me about this matter. Thank you.

    Dec 05, 2017
  • anon

    I have a cousin who had an unauthorized change of address by a disgruntled mail delivery employee. This delivery person submitted a change of address and then kept the notification when it was sent to her address. Seems there is a flaw in the system. Perhaps it would be better to receive a phone call?

    Dec 05, 2017
  • anon

    My mailing address apparently has been changed but I don't know where my mail is. I did not put in a change of address but the lock has been changed on my mailbox. This is the 2nd time that my mail has been redirected without my consent. Who can change the locks on USPS mailboxes without an address change form being on file?

    Dec 02, 2017
  • anon

    My roomate moved and now I don't get any mail. Is there a way to check if he accidentally did a change if address for me too?

    Nov 30, 2017
  • anon

    The post office decided to change my legal name to my previous last name...when I was married to my ex-husband. Needless to say, my spouse is not happy, nor am I. I don't know why this information is even out there. that last name was never used at my current address.

    Nov 30, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address several months ago. My mail continues to go to old address. I went in the post office, they said it had been changed. I am not getting my mail. This is out of control. I need help from someone who cares and is competent.

    Nov 29, 2017
  • anon

    Is there anything my sister can do? She purchased a home 2 years ago, and the seller moved across the street - weird, but no biggie. The issue is that he has refused to change his address and when she asks about it, he says he just forgot/hasn't gotten to it yet. The postal carrier has suggested that she just drop off their mail "since they live right next door." It's the principle of the thing - what can she do? She lives in a small town and doesn't want to cause "bad blood" with anyone.

    Nov 29, 2017
  • anon

    is there a way to stop getting the mail of someone who has NOT changed their address? Putting it back in the mail with a “no such person” has done absolutely nothing to deter the previous residents’ mail from being delivered to my home.

    Nov 29, 2017
  • anon

    For some odd reason I have not been receiving any mail. It has been at least two months, not even a regular circular, or even a utility bill. How can I see if anyone has did a change of address on me?

    Nov 28, 2017
  • anon

    Go to your post office asap and ask them if a Forward was put in without your knowledge. I'm a rural carrier in a MN. office and I've had a customer's identity stolen for that same reason. Please do it tomorrow. A thief had their mail forwarded to a vacant box in Florida. I wish you the best.

    Nov 28, 2017
  • anon

    i want to know all my old history moving from and to please

    Nov 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I have a quick question. This year I changed my mailing address twice with USPS. So, will USPS still forward me the mails sent to my first address not the last one, because I changed it twice within a year? Just to make it clear; First time I changed my address from Fayetteville NC to Raleigh NC and them from Raleigh NC to Thornton CO within a year. I mean will I still get mails from Fayetteville to my new address Your feedback would highly be appreciated

    Nov 25, 2017
  • anon

    You need to figure out a way to differentiate a business address from a nursing home address and allow a change of this type online. My mother moved to a new facility and your system will not allow a change of address because her prior address is a business location. It is a business but people live there too and need to be able to easily change their mailing address. I have enough loose ends to tie up with her move to a new nursing home. Remembering every last place she might receive mail from should not be one of them!

    Nov 19, 2017
  • anon

    Hello, I have the same problem as you except my apartment building was on top of a business so it's considered a business address. Have you found a way to change the address?

    Nov 21, 2017
  • anon

    It is apparent by reading some of the comments on this investigation that others are experiencing the same nightmare we have been living since this past summer. FYI Equifax was hacked which resulted in millions of people having all their personal and credit information stolen. Also, if you do a google search on unauthorized change of address forms, you will find this scam has been going on for years. And yet, it seems none of this has resulted in the USPS insuring an address change is valid BEFORE it is changed in their system. Additionally, we have experienced a NEW twist of this scam----On 2 different times in the last 90 days, we have found our address has been changed by business entities we receive mail from, AND on both occasions investigation with them reveals that the address was changed due to a data feed from the USPS, AND when we go to our local post office we are told their computers show NO change of address on file AND we have received NO verification form from the post office. The local post office just wants us to leave, and they say they have no way of doing anything about this and we need to file a report with the Inspectors Office online--then I go to your website and find nothing that indicates a report for ID Theft issues. We are suspicious that someone has hacked into the USPS feeds, which is certainly believable since it was hackers who made off with all our info in the first place. THIS NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED IMMEDIATELY. The vendors are telling us we have to handle with the PO, and the PO is telling us they have no record of a change, yet vendors keep getting a data feed from the PO that reports a change to address to a utility lot in Miami, which results in our address being changed again and again. Meanwhile, our lives have been severely disrupted by this. Not only credit card addresses were changed, but also stock certificate records, investment accounts, insurance companies, and all we can do is wait to figure out what mail we DIDN'T get. PLEASE HELP!

    Nov 18, 2017
  • anon

    There is an individual who is using my address claiming to be living in my house basement but has never lived in the basement or home. Basement is not rentable and is using my address to establish residency at my home. This individual has taken out a state identification with false address of living arrangement. What do I do?

    Nov 17, 2017
  • anon

    The post office changed the address on my credit card without notifying me. How and why did happen and why did no one tell me about it?

    Nov 15, 2017
  • anon

    I keep trying to change my address, and my card HAS money on it, but for some reason it keeps declining. I need to change my address ASAP since it's been past 10 days. My card has been charged $2 four times because I tried more than once. If my card is showing that it got charged, then why did it say "declined"?

    Nov 14, 2017
  • anon

    Me and my husband split, I changed my address but I need my three kids address changed too. Not only that but him and my son have the same name :( help please.

    Nov 14, 2017
  • anon

    How can someone perfect a change of address to an address that they have NEVER resided at? My ex-husband (of 17 years) continually perfects this at every single residence I move to (including my parents home) when he has NEVER resided at these 3 locations. How does the Post Master perfect proof of residency for an entire family address change?

    Nov 12, 2017
  • anon

    I was in the process of buying a house we put in a change of address online around the first week of October effective date 10-21. On October 18th I cancelled the purchase and immediately put in a change of address back to the original address online. Will they cancel each other out and the mail will go to the original address??

    Nov 09, 2017
  • anon

    we change the name of the street where our church is located what we do to receive the mail in the new address

    Nov 08, 2017
  • anon

    What do I do about someone who keeps using my address without my permission? I keep sending his mail back and I tell my mail carrier but I still get his mail. Cellphone bills and other bills he never pays and just about anything. This has been going on for 5-6 years. I even put a note in my mailbox to not leave his mail here. I am the home owner and I live here.

    Nov 08, 2017

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