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

    I've moved from my old residence and did not change my address to new home, I haven't been back to the city to check my mail, where would these mails go if they're sent back? Will all my mail from Dec 2016 still be at post office?

    Aug 04, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address online but they have billed me more then once why

    Aug 04, 2017
  • anon

    Someone got my address and phone number and I am worried they will change my address without my knowledge. Can I do something to prevent that?

    Aug 03, 2017
  • anon

    I need to change my address, but doing so through the online form is unsuccessful each time I use it. Can a form be emailed to me so I can print and mail in? Your website only has the movers edge website and no printable forms are available.

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    Yes. You can request a 'change of address form' from your mail carrier or get one from any post office in the country

    Aug 03, 2017
  • anon

    I have lived at my current address for 4 years and for the first 3 I received my mail but since December of 2016 I have received junk mail but not check, greeting cards or statements. I have been to the post office the first time and they told me that when I was on vacation a stop delivery was put on because box was full. Since notifying them it was ok and that the building was not vacant I still have not received my mail but my boyfriend who owns the house is. I have been to the post office and they do not have any idea why! The carrier and post manager both say there is no hold. What is the problem and how do we fix?

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    case#HQ134080684 awaiting response. Need my undelivered mail from the last two weeks. Where is my mail?

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    What can I do for this lack of efficiency. They get paid and benefits.

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    I move out off state and had my mailed forward to a p.o. box but this company mailed a check to my old address that I moved from about 2 years ago. Will the check still forward to my p.o. box ?

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    By changing our address does the post office also change the addresses that our mail is going to ?

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    You should not have a charge to change your address online because people who are low income like myself do not have the dollar for everyone in the house to change the address. We live on a limited income and even tho it is only 3$, I do not have 3$ to spare. How can i get around this? I went to the post office to pick up a change of address form and I did not read it till I got home and it says I have to do it online. I do not have the money to do it online. What can I do?

    Jul 29, 2017
  • anon

    If I submit a change of address, will usps send a letter the old address showing my new address? Trying to prevent my ex from having my new address

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Have you found anything it about this yet? I'm in the exact same boat.

    Aug 21, 2017
  • anon

    Curious about this question. Can a person block another person from getting their forwarding address?

    Aug 18, 2017
  • anon

    If I submit a change of address, will usps send a letter the old address showing my new address? Trying to prevent my ex from having my new address

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I don't have a credit card our Debit card with $1 to charge. Am I jusT out of luck? Do they ask have a gluten I can fill out abd send in without having to Walt in the long post office line? I was in Valparaiso, In. P.Office the other day, it was 88 degrees outside and they had no air, plus there were about five people in line. It was very uncomfortable to wake in that line.

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    The Online Change of Address form is broken. I tried with 2 different browsers, 3 different cards, I tried with my old - correct address and new - correct address and even changed address with the bank to the new address and it fails every time. I tried to call 1-800-275-8777 and waited 50 minutes on hold while my phone battery went flat. USPS needs a working system to change address efficiently and accurately.

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    I am responsible for addressing in our city Sequim, WA. I have changed a couple's address, sent out the information to all concerned but the couple cannot change their address at their bank and on other government websites. What do we have to do to get all of their affairs changed to the new address? When trying to change their address on the bank's website it tells them they have to many numbers in the address. It is only three numbers long and the new street name. Please help and thank you.

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I keep trying to change my address but when I get to the billing it won't process because my "billing address is incorrect." But it's not. I type it the exact same way it should be. Does anyone else have this problem?

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    The post office is a joke went to our post office to inform them that some imposters was trying to steal my husbands identity and please do not let anyone change our address told us there is nothing they can do which is crap you can ask for ID and so much more so redicilous

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    The whole system in every town county and state is a complete mess. When I got married years ago and moved up the block in the same town I had no problems. Now my husband and I move to the next town, I pay over $5+ for mail forwarding bc I put every way the post office may interpret our names on the mail from our old address to be sent to the new address. Let me tell you, from bills to checks to personal house warming cards with the correct new address on the envelope, I have received nothing in months. No one knows anything. My suggestions 1- call all your personal items to change addresses and 2-stay on top of pay dates for at least 3 months on your own. Should you inquire a late fee discuss that with creditor to be removed bc you will be wasting time with the post office at this point.

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    My husband shares the same name as his father. We recently moved out of state and filled out a change of address and are receiving his fathers mail... how do we stop recieving his mail?

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Melia, and thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates and audits internal fraud, waste, and abuse; 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, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    I have had a problem with my dads wife she has done some awful things she changed my address and tried to say she didn't do the post office did but yet I never got my mail until today and it's 6days worth of mail missing the only reason I got my mail for the 19&20 was because I confronted her she wouldn't tell me where my mail was I got ahold of my dad he told me he would get I only got for the 2days because her son is a thief and is on probation and keeper the rest of my mail I want to know how much and where from my mail that I didn't receive for those days and can charges be put on her and her son for doing stuff to me all the time i might contact channel 2news

    Jul 24, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment If you believe mail theft was committed by a non-postal employee, please file a complaint with the Postal Inspection Service on their website or call 877-876-2455.

    Jul 25, 2017
  • anon

    I moved from one number on Rockledge Lane to another number on Rockledge Lane in zip code 94595 It has been a nightmare. I did the online CofA scheduled to begin June 19. To date not one single piece of mail with the yellow label has arrived.I mailed myself 3 envelopes at the old address and nothing arrived. Two weeks ago I went in person to the main Walnut Creek post office where I spoke with the person in charge who made a photocopy of my online form reassuring me that he would take care of the problem. A week later I called and spoke to yet another person in charge. We went through the same routine but now the problem is even bigger as I'm not getting any mail at all at my new address!! None of my bills or magazines. Someone goofed and probably all of my mail either at the old or new address is held hostage at the post office on someone's desk or in a cubicle. The mail carrier probably looks only at my last name and doesn't know what to do? Bottom line I'm in limbo and I'm most concerned. When I had my mail forwarded from New York to San Diego there was no problem. When I moved here last year from New York to Walnut Creek there was no problem. But now that I'm moving on the same street there is a huge problem.HELP!

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    Same exact thing happening to me right now...i have made several calls aa well as visited post office..i have a paycheck that has not been fwd or return to sender...no one seems to know where my mail is or help with issue...postage conrinues to rise but customer service and reliability does NOT

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi! I was just wondering. How many days would it take for USPS to send the Confirmation mail or something? I applied for it online last July 18, 2017. Please reply. Thank you!

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    In early July, I completed the online change of address, forked over my $1, set the date to stop receiving mail at my previous address for July 11. It is now July 21, and I have not received ONE PIECE OF MAIL at my new address. I do not know where to turn to track down my missing mail, which consists of mortgage statements and bills for which I may incur hefty late fees. I tried calling the Post Office, and the wait time was over an hour. I wish there was a way to resolve this online, since I'm not sure if my mail is sitting in the post office of my former town or sitting in the post office of my new town.

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    I should be able to go into a post and fill out a change of address card for FREE!!! No one should have to pay $1 for that. This used to be a free service. This is ridiculous!

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    I paid the fee to change my address over a month ago... and my old place is still receiving my mail.. my husband who's at basic letters are goin there and because we needed on bad terms they threw them all away. I am very upset cause I paid the 1$ fee to have my mail forworded and that is not happening.

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    Just applied for`premium mail forwarding temporarly after hearing all the horror storys i wonder does it really work out were they send your mail out every wednesday it is costly but how reliable is this service

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    I have noticed I don't seem to be receiving as much of the mail I used to. is there a way I can verify that all mail in my name is being directed to my home address?

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    My doctor informed me today that mail was sent back as undeliverable. I have not moved and have not gotten mail in over a week...

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    I just recently filled out a change of address to a PO box. I paid the $45. I started checking my PO box... No mail. Went to counter and was told it takes 15 days to start receiving mail. This is too long to wait for mail and why am I being charged for a box I can't use for 15 days. I wasn't informed that it will take this long to get my mail. This system needs to be changed. We are from from the days of the pony express!

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    I am trying to change my address and the credit card I am using has the correct address according to the bank accout but the change of address computer says that my address is invalid for that credit card. I tried to correct with credit card at 4 times. Help me? Thank you

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Telli, and thanks for reaching out to the USPS OIG. The Office of Inspector General is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates fraud, waste, and abuse, and as such day-to-day mailing issues are outside of our jurisdiction. For assistance with your address change, please contact USPS Consumer Affairs directly. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    why do you give the option to change an address over the phone if when you call they tell you to do it online or at the post office

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    I've tried numerous times to change my address online, but declined my perfectly good debit card. My roommate is having the same problem. FRUSTRATING!!!

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    My sister did a family address change and had all my mail start going to her p.o. box now I can't get my mail I have changed my address at post office and online and still can't get my mail returned to me please help me fix this she has a history of fraud and theft and I don't want my credit card offers and bank statements going to her

    Jul 17, 2017
  • anon

    Just moved here.

    Jul 15, 2017
  • anon

    I want to change my adress

    Jul 14, 2017
  • anon

    I have a PO box and s physical address I just moved and I put my name on green form that the postman left in my box but now im not getting any mail at all why?

    Jul 13, 2017
  • anon

    In attempting to forward our mail to our new address, I encountered a problem. My son's last name is different that mine and my husband's. I was told that I can forward as a family ONLY if ALL of our last names match. Since his does not...he must go to the post office himself. That is NOT possible, he is away at college. There needs to be a better system. If I can prove that he's my son...(birth certificate etc) he should be able to be included in our FAMILY mail forward.

    Jul 11, 2017
  • anon

    It doesnot work i canceled a forwardimg. 2 weeks ago. Still no mail

    Jul 10, 2017
  • anon

    I had my address changed a few weeks back and just had something sent to my old address on accident...I can't change the address with the send so my question is will that piece of mail be forwarded to my new address?

    Jul 08, 2017
  • anon

    My address was changed to the person who has been using my credit cards , after some how getting my personal information. After putting me through some pretty bad heck !!!!!!!!!!!!! I notified the Police Department A the District Attorney It's been over three months . I can't believe this person is still attacking me in every conceivable way and she has my address phone cell number . No one should be able to change your address with out a proper IDENTIFICATION , is this a federal offence ?

    Jul 07, 2017
  • anon

    My adress has been changed for the 2nd time without my permission. How can the post office do this without verifying my identity? I found this out when my retirement fund notified me.

    Jul 06, 2017
  • anon

    Hello, I recently changed my address online but need a mail key to have access to my mailbox. Do I go to the post office to pick the keys to my mailbox up? Thank you Best, Jordan Romero

    Jul 03, 2017
  • anon

    I would like to forward my all mails to my new addresss

    Jun 28, 2017

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