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

    Usps requires no personal information, and does not validate any information with a drivers license or id card. However, like in my case, wells fargo takes the usps address change information as gold. They changed my bank account address and started mailing my statements to the address. My auto insurance changed adress. Dmv vehicle regustration changed addresses. How can the usps, a federal company not mandate a secure address change process. More importantly, how can wells fargo's computer system automatically update the new address without consent of the banking customer? Well, the bank says its a federal document that has a process in which your id is checked. False claim there. Wells fargo lost a 10 year customer because of that. It is dissapointing how a federal entity can let these actions happen.

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

    I to am a victim of a fraudulent change of address - June 8, 2017. How can the USPS not require valid identification before a change of address is granted? Mail Fraud Case #133475489. I would like a status on the case please.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Lynn... just happened to me too. Contact your congressional representative.... that is what I am doing. Address was changed without my knowledge and my bank was automatically updated. Crazy

    Jul 06, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. 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 the USPS website.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    The USPS in Fontana CA really screwed up my life, My address was changed by mistake and checks were cashed, signatures forged. A police report has been taken by the Fontana Police Dept.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Change of address should have to be made in person, with photo ID. Anyone can fill out a card and take ones mail. Change the policy.

    Jun 26, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address, but it won't forward

    Jun 24, 2017
  • anon

    Just received a letter from the USPO that someone had requested that my mail be forwarded to them. I called my PO this morning and reported it. The origination was from Ft. Myers, Florida. I live in Tuscumbia, AL. I just think that anyone requesting a forwarding of mail has to show proof of their identity or that they are Power of Attorney for the person. This event has upset me. No checks come to my address, but my bank statement as well as my 401k information comes. This could have been disastrous!!!

    Jun 19, 2017
  • anon

    is there a way to find out when a mailing address was changed?

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I changed my address and paid the fee on your website yet I still haven't gotten my mail at my new address. Please let me know why I am not receiving my mail considering I paid the fee.

    Jun 12, 2017
  • anon

    For about 2 weeks now, I have not been getting my mail. I live in Manchester Nh, and I think someone forwarded my mail on me, because I was expecting things in the mail, and even getting notices saying that it should be delivered. Just wondering if there was any way to tell if either someone was taking my mail, or forwarded it on me to another address,

    Jun 12, 2017
  • anon

    I forwarded my mail on may 18th it is now june 9th and i have yet to receive any mail to my new address what is going on?

    Jun 09, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Breyonne, 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 Team

    Jun 09, 2017
  • anon

    If you have a po box in Milwaukee WI & you move to West Allis WI do you close po box in Milwaukee first then fillout for po box in West Allis or can you transfer po boxes?

    Jun 08, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Sheilah, 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 Team

    Jun 08, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter in law moved and changed address. My mail and my wifes mail is now going to her house.

    Jun 07, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter in law moved and changed address. My mail got caught in her move. I need my mail to come to my house, not hers

    Jun 07, 2017
  • anon

    I need to find a list of addresses of where I have lived for the past ten years - can you please help me?

    Jun 06, 2017
  • anon

    I received a notice that someone had requested a change of address form asking to have mail forwarded from my address. The notice said to call 1800 ASK USPS. This is the basic USPS number. Not fraud. Not OIG. Super contact info there. Really relevant to purpose of the notice. When I finally got through the maze to "change of address" (which probably isn't even where I needed to be). it asked for the NEW zip code. How am I supposed to know the new zip code?

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    Last week I asked to have our mail forwarded starting one month from now. In the past week we've received no mail at all but twice had red slips in the mailbox saying the new tenants should fill it in. Why, when we aren't yet moving for a month???

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Victoria, Thank you for your message. 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

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    I received a Change of Address confirmation yesterday. I had not requested any change of address, so this was either erroneous or fraudulent. I immediately called the 1-800 number on the notice to report the error, but the system needed a confirmation number that was not on the form. ("Call back when you have the confirmation number.") So I went to my local post office the same day to file a cancellation of any outstanding change of address requests, but still received no mail the today. The local post office kept the Change of Address confirmation, so I don't have the 1-800 number anymore, I don't have the letter, and I don't have my mail. End-of-month statements will be arriving this coming week, so my sense of urgency is high.

    Jun 03, 2017
  • anon

    I think the new address of a customer should not be sent to the old address in case if the customer doesn't want the new tentants at the old address to know where they now live. Most times the forward mail is toss out because it's not the new tentants mail. Often times the forward address card comes to the old address 2 or more times before it completely stops. I feel this is unnecessary and a waste of paper.

    Jun 03, 2017
  • anon

    While on vacation someone on-line forwarded our mail from Yorba Linda Ca to Stone Mountain Ga, (Complaint # 32892268). We did discover the issue on our return a few day later and got the forwarding stopped. But as a result someone in the interim checked our FICO score and applied for a credit card through Bank of America. We were able to stop this transaction. From this experience I believe how you forward your mail on-line needs to be beefed up. Most institutions who deal on-line require at a minimum a User Name and Password. I would suggest that to get the User Name and Password that a customer go down to the Post Office and show a valid picture ID and there be given a temporary User Name and Password that could be altered later on-line if the customer desires. This incident has caused us much time, effort and worry to resolve working with B of A, Credit Bureaus, your postal inspectors, the police and others and this could have been avoided with a better security system.

    Jun 01, 2017
  • anon

    To people who've grown up in the electronic era, there is something backward about having to pay for an automated process. Even if it is only a dollar. People don't generally want to pay for something they have to do themselves. If you change your address at the post office or over the phone, there are people involved who have to input all your information. It makes more sense to charge for this service. Additionally I was forced to go the paper route because your system wouldn't accept my Mastercard check card as payment. If you want to encourage people to use one system over another they'll generally go for the free source if there is one.

    Jun 01, 2017
  • anon

    How does one check to see if a fraudulent change of address has been submitted?

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

    I need a change of address in order to start my second job and if it's truly only a dollar i'll be willing to pay thank you and enjoy your day.

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. 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 visit the USPS website.

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

    For tax purposes, I'm trying to establish the date that we moved into our current home. I know it was in August of 2015. Does the USPS keep records of change of address requests? Thanks!

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

    I requested a temporary change of address recently. I'd read that we should allow 7-10 days for processing. What the USPS website did not say, however, was that processing time starts with the day you've requested your mail to start being forwarded. I handed in a forwarding request on May 14th, asking that my mail be forwarded starting May 20th. I got confirmation on May 22 that forwarding would start May 22. The 2 day discrepancy is not a big deal in this case. But mail is still being sent to the old address, received it the 25th at the old address. When I've tried to figure out why, everyone says we need to allow 7-10 days for processing - apparently starting on May 22! If that's indeed the case, it would be helpful for the USPS website to be very clear about when processing occurs, once they receive the request or starting with the day you want forwarding to start. Otherwise I think USPS is a wonderful service.

    May 26, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address and no mail coming to my home

    May 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Tenia, 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, 800-275-8777, or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, The USPS Office of Inspector General.

    May 26, 2017
  • anon

    CHange of address should be allowed only in person and with a proof of identity -- unauthorized change of address is now a common way to steal someone's identity. Saying that you will simply send a letter is not good enough.

    May 23, 2017
  • anon

    My parents lived with me for a few months and had their mail forwarded to my address. A few months later they moved to another address in the same state, VA. When they had their mail forwarded from my residence to another, they may have selected the family option so some of my mail with my maiden name was also forwarded. Makes some sense. When contacted to correct the problem, the post office told my husband this is our problem to deal with, yet the water company who has me forwarded to the wrong address claims we need to go through the post office. Additionally, we are discovering even more of our mail (bills) is being forwarded to my parents new address this time with my married name or my husbands name which is completely different than my parents name. This is becoming a huge mess and I am on hold now with over an hour wait time just to see if by chance someone at the post office will assist us with this issue. It's illegal for an individual to forward another's without consent, but is it legal for the post office to do so? I work for the federal judiciary and I take the responsibility of public service seriously. I hope I am able to connect with someone at USPS who shares the same sense of responsibility (I am waiting on the customer service line, as suggested). If future, why not have every individual listed for any mail forwarding requests? It doesn't see very labor intensive for a parent or spouse to list the specific members of the family who need the address forwarded. It shouldn't be a wild guess on the post office's side especially when it affects an individuals personal and financial information and obligations. Last, confirming someones intent to change their address via mail makes no sense whatsoever. If someone has moved or is in between addresses, why would you confirm via mail???

    May 23, 2017
  • anon

    I am changing my address because I am about to file for divorce and move out. Is there any way I can request for USPS to not send my change of address notifications to my old address? I do not have a protection order but I don't want my soon-to-be-ex to know beforehand anything about my impending move.

    May 22, 2017
  • anon

    I submitted a COA for my business and residence and mail has been coming to my new address fine for about 3 months. I'm still working to contact everyone with my new address. I just found out yesterday that I now have some of my recent mail going to my old address and not being forwarded at all for me and my business. The COA order is supposed to last 12 months for these items. How do I find out what's going on? I still own the house at the old address and someone still lives there so they bring in the mail everyday. But they are leaving in 2 weeks so I'm worried this un-forwarded mail will pile up. Help! Thanks.

    May 21, 2017
  • anon

    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, The USPS Office of Inspector General

    May 22, 2017
  • anon

    I was late paying my post office box bill. I know i'm horrible. I told them i would do it as soon as i got paid which was four days away. When i went in to pay it. I asked for my mail. I was told that the new manager put in a new rule that when people were late paying their bill that they (the post office) was to return mail to sender and fill out a COA for the people who were late on their bill. Can they really do this? I would think that they would have to have my ok on this.

    May 19, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service at the USPS website.

    May 19, 2017
  • anon

    I have been trying since mid april to get my mail service turned back on. I was on an extended work assignment and had arranged with a neighbor to take the mail in. However, when the neighbor did not take in the mail, the post offce decided to return mail to sender. I have tried several times to get the mail turned back on but the bulk is still being returned to sender. As such, I am currently without insurance cards. Whwt does it take to fix this?

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777).

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    I recently changed my address (about 2 months ago) and my address is correct, but I still do not receive any mail! I am curious if anyone else has this issue - I would really like to have this issue rectified.

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777).

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    I renewed my NJ DMV registration online not realizing I have moved since and the DMV has my address as my old one but months ago I had updated a perm ant address change on the post office website. Will the post office recognize the permanent afresh change when my NJ DMV registration renewal gets mailed to me ? In another sense since this is a new registration and I made a permanent chane of address with the post office I want to make sure this will not be mailed to my old adressX

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Gabrielle, Thank you for your message. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service.

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    I put in a change of address at the post office on March 21st. I received confirmation but still have not received any forwarded mail, almost two months. I have talked to both post office managers, old and new address, and both confirm the change yet they have no idea where my mail is. I'm afraid it's sitting in the Tampa location where I'm told all forwarded mail goes through. I don't know what to do at this point, two months worth of mail has vanished.

    May 15, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service at the USPS website.

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, My Name is Carlos Navarrete. I was living with my cousin Jose Navarrete in address ”A”, last year Me and my family moved to a new address “B” my cousin stay at address “A” . I applied online to change address for me and my family to new address “B”. The issue is that Jose’s mail is coming to address “B” and he needs to get his mail back to the address “A”. What steps I need to do to correct this issue? Thank you, Carlos

    May 15, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. 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, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service at the USPS website.

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    I have changed my address now on two separate occasions using the online system. Both accounted for by the manager at each USPS branch when I finally called in to find out why I've not received my mail. The first time it happened I missed a letter from Medicaid and the state revoked my infant son's Medicaid benefits. The second time just happened so I guess I get to wait and see what the USPS has cost me and my family this time.

    May 15, 2017

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