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

    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 websit

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    I have tried to change my address, but the USPS system believes my old address is a business. It won't let me complete the process to forward my mail. What can I do?

    May 15, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Erin, 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 15, 2017
  • anon

    I am getting mail For a person who I did not authorized to use my mailing address how do I get it to stop.

    May 14, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Jennifer, 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 15, 2017
  • anon

    I have a po box address and have asked the postman at my physical residence to not deliver mail at my physical address. I had put a change of address to forward all my mail from my physical address to my po box. I still do not have my AMEX card and AMEX insists on mailing to my physical address. What can be done to find out if my address has been changed or forwarded to my po box address??

    May 13, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Liz, 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 15, 2017
  • anon

    I have tried to change my address twice within a 6 month period

    May 13, 2017
  • anon

    I need to change my adress immediately, without the new info being mailed to my old address. Please help

    May 12, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Jamie, 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 15, 2017
  • anon

    This may sound like a stupid question, but if I requested a change of address and filled out the hardcopy, will all of the mail that has already been sent to my previous address get picked up and forwarded? Thank you for the help.

    May 12, 2017
  • anon

    No. Change of Address will only affect future mails. It may take a few days to kick in.

    May 22, 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. Please contact your local Postal Service Consumer Affairs Department and they will be able to assist you.

    May 12, 2017
  • anon

    I moved from a residential home to a business address 2 years ago. I did 2 change of addresses once moving out of The business home once when I first moved out and again when I never received any mail for awhile. I have not received any of my mail for a year now. None of the post office's Will help me they say that there is nothing I can do. There has to be a way that I can get my mail again. I don't know what to do at this point. Please help me get my mail.

    May 11, 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, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General Team

    May 12, 2017
  • anon

    My elderly parents are staying with us. They have their mail forwarded to our address. Every 6 months it seems this has to be renewed. How can we find out the date that mail will stop coming to my address? And...my mother cannot seem to locate the change of address confirmation that was sent.

    May 11, 2017
  • anon

    Ok I filled out a change of address form online for my entire family two weeks ago today I came home and I found this paper that looks like it was printed off of a regular printer asking all the name is going to be receiving mail at my house should I fill this out or no.

    May 05, 2017
  • anon

    I am moving state and so i put i a change of address for last Wednesday April 26th - but i just found out they don't deliver to that address. That i have to get a PO box.. Where or who can i contact to get the lost mail? will it still come if i change my address tomorrow online?

    May 04, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Haley, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the United States Postal Service which investigates internal waster, fraud, 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 the USPS website.

    May 04, 2017
  • anon

    Why can't I view my change of address order? It doesn't tell me anywhere else what the expiration date is that I requested.

    May 03, 2017
  • anon

    I want to extend my mail forwarding - can not find the location where I can put in my confirmation code, and extend the cut off date. From 5/15 - 5/27

    May 06, 2017
  • anon

    I put a change of address for me n my fiancé Steven Pratt starting the 27th of April online n I think I entered the wrong address how can I change that if I did enter it wrong? I filled out 2 online apps I paid the $1.00 for each I just want to make sure I entered the write address or do I have to submit another application. I think I entered 568 Sutton Way #266 Grass Valley,Ca 95945 and the correct address is 578 Sutton Way #266 Grass Valley, Ca 95945 and that address is for both of us. Please email me with a response as soon as possible. Please n thank you. Staci Siegel & Steven Pratt

    May 03, 2017
  • anon

    I have attempted to change my address online approximately six time. Each time the website says my card could not be charged because the address entered doesn't match that of the CC, which was incorrect. Each time I attempted the change, the $1.00 fee was taken out of my account & I am still not getting mail at my new address.

    May 02, 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 help page.

    May 04, 2017
  • anon

    Permanent Change of Address at USPS Hi, Wondering how long will USPS continue to forward mails to new address. The duration for temporary change of address could be up to 1 year, but not sure the duration for Permanent change though.

    May 01, 2017
  • anon

    The system needs improved. My daughter moved back with us about a year ago and submitted an official change of address with the USPS. As recently as 2 or 3 months ago we believe someone submitted another change of address without her authorization. As her correctly addressed mail is being redirected to a "non-existent" address then it is returned as "non-deliverable." How can this happen. Shouldn't a person requesting a change of address have to supply a photo ID or some other proof that they are actually the person requesting the change? If not then anyone could change anyone's address without the person's knowledge. Just wondering.

    Apr 27, 2017
  • anon

    Hello i did a change if address from an address and moved back to that address now i am moving out again can i do another change of address from that same address

    Apr 24, 2017
  • anon

    I went to the local post office is Atascadero, CA, and was told they had no forms, and I had to do it online. I went to the website and it is down. We are moving soon, and I didn't anticipate the USPS would be a major source of delay. I am not a happy customer.

    Apr 20, 2017
  • anon

    Hey I was sopose to receive my epay card within 7-10 business days it's been 14-15 days I also did a change of address in between I haven't received it yet should I be concerned ? Should I cancel my card and order a new one or should I wait it out ?

    Apr 15, 2017
  • anon

    I was trying to get a PO Box. I was using the county's website for property ownership as proof of residency. They wanted PAPER! First that is easier to forge than the county's website. Second, that voilates the paper reduction act of 1980. Lastly, it's so old fashioned. YOu're doing a great job of moving into the 21st century. I've worked at amazon for 18 years and had a great relationship w/ USPS. I owned trans s/w for 7 years. I love what your'e doing, but the people at the North Bend WA office are unreasonable.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • anon

    When you change your address, what happens to the mails that have been already sent to the old address

    Apr 14, 2017
  • anon

    I just moved to a new residence 2 weeks ago. I filed for our mail to be forwarded to our new address before we moved. Since we have lived in our new residence we have only received 1 piece of mail from our old residence. We normally received an average of 3 pieces a of a day. And now we have only received one letter in 2 weeks. Where is all of my mail? Who can i contact to find out where my mail is?

    Apr 11, 2017
  • anon

    Really do not want to change my address online. Last time I changed it I could do it by hand. I've asked two post offices how I can do this and all they do is give me the online packet...

    Apr 11, 2017
  • anon

    I WAS ON VACATION FOR TWO MONTHS SO I HAD TEMPORARY ADDRESS GIVEN ONLINE OF MY SON'S ADDRESS IT HAD START DATE 1/26/2017 AND STOP DATE WAS 3/22/2017. NOW I AM NOT GETTING ANY MAIL SINCE I CAME BACK FROM VACATION. I WENT PERSONALY, THEY DIDN'T HELP AT EVANS, GA POST OFFICE. I WAS TOLD TO FILL OUT THE CHANGE ADDRESS FORM AND FILL OUT AND MAIL IT BUT NO HELP. SEEMS LIKE NO ACCOUNTABILITY FROM POST OFFICE TO TAX PAYING CITIZENS. I HOPE SOMEONE HELP ME IN THIS MATTER. confirmation code was 1702-1900-0022-5760. RAMESH AMIN

    Apr 07, 2017
  • anon

    I have reported that my mail has been stolen 3 months ago and nothing has been done about it...I went to the post office and reported it as well and they told me this happens allot in this area...I had just moved in. I asked if they were going to put a sign at that mail box on 4th ave and 61st and NOTHING has been done. It's been three months since I made a report and now my mail keeps getting sent back to my old address what the hell is going on. It's like living in a third world country over here....

    Apr 04, 2017
  • anon

    My sister changed everyone's mail without our content. I have important mail and I do not appreciate this. She is a druggie and I plan on going to my local police station.

    Apr 04, 2017
  • anon

    My sublease and mailbox says my address is "apt 2" but the us post office says there is no such address. They recognize "apt b". Is there a difference? What do I tell my credit card company and other agencies? How do I get us postal service to recognize "apt 2"?

    Apr 03, 2017
  • anon

    Use 2 different forms for permanent vs temporary address changes. Every year I forward my mail from Michigan to Florida,; I don't need a "you have moved kit" full of useless coupons and information. Took 4 weeks for my mail to forward to my winter address. Also, some was returned to sender as undeliverable, some was delivered to my brother, and some sat in my permanent residence mailbox for months. Every year, the post office gets more inefficient. Had I performed as you do in my job, my patients all would have died or been lost or misplaced. Now, I can't get anyone to stop my mail forwarding, so I can get it at my permanent residence.

    Mar 31, 2017
  • anon

    I can not find my 'confirmation ' number. Please help.

    Mar 30, 2017
  • anon

    Dau-in-law moved to Germany...filed a forwarding address online from her Texas address to my Texas address...why, I don't know, since she had already her Germany address. I got addressed to my last name the confirmation letter, giving me the option to cancel her order online, which I did. She didn't ask my permission to use my address, and had, in the meantime, already tried to file a change of address from MY address to Germany...that would have been a nightmare, since we have the same last names. I wouldn't have allowed it if she asked, which she didn't. It wouldn't work for her, since her credit card showed her old address and not my addresss...thank God! The "system" online said it would email confirmation of the cancellation-I assume to her email address, since it doesn't have mine. I have sent both her and my son emails telling them not to involve our address in ANY address changes, much less to Germany. We have already gotten several pieces of their mail and a box which we will re-mail to them in Germany. She asked my wife to file changes of address to Germany for her and my son---my wife won't do that. Don't know how the system can be changed to get permission from the "new" address before forwarding mail to it ...The confirmation letter from you being in my last names is the only reason I caught it.

    Mar 30, 2017
  • anon

    My ex girlfriend changed my address without my permission. I have lived at the same residence for 3 yrs now. How can i change this back. And can anything be done for her messing with my mail.

    Mar 28, 2017
  • anon

    My Daughter recently was married, and changed her address, which is the same as mine. However my mail was also diverted to her new address. She claims it's the USPS fault. Who and how to correct this. This has caused a chain reaction of further problems for me. Not receiving checks, bills, and other important mail etc... Please help.

    Mar 25, 2017
  • anon

    Do you keep records when someone puts in a change of address form? If so how do I access them?

    Mar 24, 2017
  • anon

    I have not changed my address for 10 years, but received a "Change of Address Validation Letter" from USPS on March 20th, Someone was trying to forward my mail and steal my identity. I immediately called USPS to report "False Change of Address". On the next day, I visited my local post office , the lady at the post office asked me to sign a form to cancel the "Forward mail" Service which I never ordered at the first place --she said that's all she could do, When I asked if I could see the original "Change of Address" order form and what is the forwarding address, she refused but told me the Frauder's privacy is protected, I, the victim, have NO right to know where my mails were going to be delivered! what BS! if she allowed me to see the form, I might recognize the handwritings and the forwarding address, the case could be solved right there. but USPS decided to keep me in the dark! I first doubted if it was a system glitch that I received the letter, but 2 weeks ago I had phone calls from Phony "bank of America" & "Wells Fargo Bank" asking me to confirm the new credit cards I have applied., so you see the red flag. Uncertain what is happening to me, I ordered my credit report and placed a Fraud alert. I also changed some of my monthly bills & bank statements to "paperless". It is unthinkable that USPS allows anyone to hand in "change of address" without checking ID.. if I were on vacation or the Validation letter arrived late or got lost, the scammer could have successfully obtained my credit card and bank statements along with other important documents. Its more unbelievable that I was NOT allowed to know the fraudulent forwarding address. as a matter of the fact, the forwarding address should be included in the "Move Validation Letter", so the person can double check if all is right. USPS returns letters with forwarding address if people Write "return service requested" on the exterior of the envelope, so what is the point to keep it as a secret from me when a crime has committed and my privacy has been violated??

    Mar 22, 2017
  • anon

    They probably requested it online because its easy to do for the criminals. I've been dealing with the USPS for a week trying to stop my mail being forwarded to the criminal's pick up spot. The criminal can change the address in minutes on line and get the wheels in motion because just minutes before they applied for credit cards and was granted one of t hem - which they then in turn used that "new" credit card in the USPS On-Line change of address way - because the USPS great security check and verification is a credit card that matches the "address being changed". The criminal did all of this within hours. I caught the credit card applications - and immediately took all the right steps with Experian, the banks where the credit cards were requested. And a Fraud Alert was placed with the big Credit companies (Experian, etc.) within hours of all of the criminals activities. However, the USPS has already verified that the address change was legit. At a minimum, the USPS should check for a Fraud alert on the address being changed - within 24 or 48 hours. I did get the letter in the mail - but I was out of town so I didn't open it until about 8 days had passed - and I've been trying to get it stopped for over 6 days. In the mean time, my sensitive mail has been delivered to this other address across the United States - and I'm receiving fake emails pretending to be my bank - fishing for my account number in sophisticated ways. So, so frustrating. USPS needs to grow up and catch up with the times.

    Apr 03, 2017
  • anon

    The change of address online never works. It always tells me that my address doesn't match, no matter how many times I fiddle with it, try to spell &/or write it differently. Nothing works. Since forwards are only good for a year, I usually just end up missing many bits of mail. It's so annoying. They need to do something about what a pain it is to use their online interface.

    Mar 22, 2017
  • anon

    Hello. And Bye.

    Mar 21, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments. To be clear, we are the Office of Inspector General and some of the issues raised fall outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office or USPS Customer Service, (800) 275-8777. However, by way of guidance, the Postal Service’s COA process has a number of security measures built in. With more than 46 million customers changing their mailing address annually, the Postal Service makes every effort to prevent identity fraud and to protect the mail and privacy of customers. The USPS sends a Confirmation Notification Letter and Move Validation Letter to help prevent mail fraud and help customers maintain the privacy and security of their mail. You may use the 1-800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) number to submit a change-of-address by telephone (with a major credit card to validate and complete the transaction). You can use the same phone number to report an error or any suspected fraudulent activity. Again, we provide this information by way of guidance. Any specific issues must be addressed to the Postal Service.

    Mar 21, 2017
  • anon

    I wanted to get information on how to stop mail from someone who does not live at my address.

    Mar 19, 2017
  • anon

    I have been trying to change my address for over a week now. Every morning I wake up and try a few more times a few more different ways. Every single time they say they could not process the transaction but have put a $1 hold on my card. I have tried inputting my name and address exactly the same as billing info and have tried at least 3 different cards. This is soooooo frustrating that they wont process but have all these holds on my cards!!!

    Mar 18, 2017

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