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.

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 (477)

  • 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
  • anon

    Moved in to the new place for more than a week now. We have already made address changed weeks before. But, we haven't received mails. We checked lots of utility bills to the new address online and found some already past due. But, we haven't received the paper bills via USPS. We are wondering why... How long will it take to receive mails at the new address (it's not a new development though. It's an old house and has been here for 50 years)?

    Nov 07, 2017
  • anon

    We moved 2 months ago so we had our mail forwarded from home A to home B. We have now moved to home C. If i update our address on the USPS website for a permanent move to home C will our mail be forwarded from both home A and B or are we at risk of not receiving mail from home A?

    Nov 07, 2017
  • anon

    Moved last month and only received 1 item from the city of Issaquah and 1 package through UPS. We haven't been receiving any of our orders, bills, business materials, etc. Some of our items were returned to sender after we called the 1800 number several times waiting as long as 45 minutes to speak to someone. Their end showed that our information updated, but we have to call offices asking where our mail is. Our permit has been returned twice. We've visited multiple office locations, even the location responsible for our zip code looking for our mail. We've done the online change and the physical form twice and spoke to the person who works our route. UPS and FedEx have been able to find us, but everything from USPS gets sent back. Who do I need to work with?

    Nov 06, 2017
  • anon

    My step son has the first name as my husband, his father. They have different middle initials. When he moved from our home all mail was sent to his new address. My husband contacted our local post office. My husband’s bills started going to his son’s new address. When he called the companies, they said that the post office had contacted them and changed his address to his son’s address! This included his charge card bills. Is this legal??

    Nov 03, 2017
  • anon

    The same exact thing happened to me - except it was my cousin who stayed with me for a few months who changed his address (his name is similar to mine, but not exact). Were you able to get this fixed easily?

    Nov 07, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Jeri, The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on their website.

    Nov 06, 2017
  • anon

    I still haven't received any mail at my new address. It's been about 3 weeks now.

    Nov 02, 2017
  • anon

    Hi. I have a friend that is moving around alot and he wants to use my address to recieve his mail. Is this "ok" if he does?? Thank you

    Nov 02, 2017
  • anon

    So I moved 2 years ago and the online process did not work. Now, I am moving and trying to use the online system and it still doesn't work. It charged my account and then credited my account, but still said there was a error. So I thought well, I will try another card. Still an error and all of my information is correct with both cards. I seriously do not understand how it continues to not work. So very frustrating

    Oct 29, 2017
  • anon

    Have tried to use online twice in the past 18 months - VERY VERY VERY user unfriendly. Will NOT take info, always indicates problems with credit card info (NOT true, have tried several also!) and/or billing addresses (not true - have changed with credit card companies sufficiently ahead of BOTH attempts). I believe part of "glitch" may be in how Apartment #'s are seen by system - have tried unsuccessfully to indicate. But - if this IS the case, find SOME way to indicated/make the process MUCH more user friendly!!

    Oct 25, 2017
  • anon

    I’m having issues since June 2017, it’s been almost 6 months since I haven’t received any mail on my new current address! I’ve used the online that i paid $1 to change my address and no mail, I did the one postal card from the post office and still no mail! This is very frustrating! I’ve call the toll free number and they say that they already have me in the system but my question is why am I haven’t received my mail??

    Oct 25, 2017
  • anon

    i recently moved from Sacramento CA to Ontario CA. I changed my address via your website, I was at this location which is my parents residence for around a month, I than moved from that location to my current location in San Diego, and again i changed my address via your website, the problem is when i changed location from Ontario CA to San Diego CA it was only for my wife and I, and my parents are still currently residing there, but there mail is being forwarded to my new address..i need to find a way to get this fixed so they receive there mail again. please get back to me on this issue asap to resolve, thank you.

    Oct 23, 2017
  • anon

    You may have filed a family forward which would mean all the same last names will go to new address. If you cancel family forward and submit new change of address for your wife and yourself and check individual only, that should solve the problem.

    Oct 29, 2017
  • anon

    i completed a "change of address" form and the only mail i have received since is the confirmation from the Postal Service. How come I have not received any of my other mail?

    Oct 23, 2017
  • anon

    I moved out of my last place and my ex-wife is still getting some of my mail, I changed my address but how can I get it to me without involving her in this, if possible?

    Oct 19, 2017
  • anon

    That's a good question. My ex husband changes his address once a year but his ex wife will undo the change. She opens his mail and has forged his checks. It's been over a year since he filed a mail fraud complaint with USPS but no answers............

    Nov 09, 2017
  • anon

    I found my mail was being forwarded to Florida without my permission. FRAUD! The thief stole my credit card number and initiated a forward request on the USPS website. Since any person can put in a change of address for you with a stolen credit card and this is not right. The postal service is complicit in this fraud because there is no requirement to show any identification--this is ridiculous. What is the postal service going to do to improve security? I did get notice in the mail that someone had forwarded my mail to another address, and the same day I called the number on the letter which the USPS said to call if I was not the one who made the request. After being on hold for 50 minutes, a case was started and I was told the local post office would be notified that I did not make the forwarding request. I followed up with the local PO the next business day. However, the forwarding had already started and continued for two weeks. The thief received my personal financial information, and it all happened over my objections, without any requirement by USPS for the thief to actually prove who they were. It is too easy to steal someone's mail because even if the victim gets the notification letter and tries to stop the forwarding, the in-between time (3-4 weeks), your mail gets forwarded. The Postal Service knows this is a problem and should require more stringent ID requirements. There is absolutely NO reason that USPS should not require a face-to-face, in-person forwarding application with identification.

    Oct 12, 2017
  • anon

    You guys make it impossible to speak to some one on the phone with wait times of 50+ min. My address is largely listed by the county to be in sutter, but the live oak sutter county post office refuses to recognize my address stating "we are outside of their delivery zone" so the sistering butte county has to deliver our mail. Our mail is getting lost because of this conflict. I spoke with Susan the address magager at the Sacramento branch, sent in county records of the property address and have heard nothing back yet in over a week. Could someone with knowledge of this please contact me since this is not a common thing on you Q&A page Amber

    Oct 11, 2017
  • anon

    A fraudulent change of address was submitted for me on 9/22/17. I did not receive a letter and the change was submitted on-line using a credit card to verify my identity. I have been unable to get the post office to give me information on the credit card that was used. How do I get this information.

    Oct 10, 2017
  • anon

    Put in change of address Sept 3 now Oct 9 still no mail. Every week someone e calls me it's coming any day now, heard that for weeks. Everything was done right but they can't find my mail. Only moved a couple of miles away one zip code over?? I give up!!

    Oct 09, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Pamela, The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on their website.

    Oct 10, 2017

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