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 comments on our blog from 2008. Please visit our home page to view our most recent work. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with individual change of address issues. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service. Go to usps.com, choose customer service at the top of the page, after that choose "contact us" on the left side and "email". Then choose the tab marked "Where is my mail" and "change of address" from the pull down menu. You can also visit the “Contact Us” page on this website for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service. Thank you again, OIG Blog Moderator

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    Why would I do any of this when I can just go to the post office and do it?

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    Someone has forwarded my mail to their address. How do i get it rescinded?

    Feb 08, 2018
  • anon

    I recently changed my, my boyfriend and our kids address online to our new address but for my boyfriend i set it as family thinking that anyone under his name, their mail will follow for example like our kids because they have his last name but what im concern is that our previous address was with my boyfriends sisters address so will her mail start coming to our new address as well because she does have the same last name as my boyfriend?

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    I keep getting mail with the yellow strip on it like it's trying to be forwarded. I have not moved so I'm not sure what is going on.

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    I recently received a false change of address notice. I immediately contacted the USPS through the phone number stating that the individual using my address as a prior address never lived at my address. The USPS opened a case to no satisfaction. I went down to the local post office who basically said to me - your mail will not be forwarded only his mail will be forwarded!! Why should he be allowed to use my address at all? I have lived at this address since 1987. This person has never lived here. Should not the PO be disallowing this address change?

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    I have a brother in law using address to get mail how to remove ,because he does not live or own house and need name moved from address how to have done ?

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    I paid to have my address changed and also contacted all bills etc. Now my bills with my new address on it are being sent back to my old address. What the neck?

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    My daughter used to get her mail here but is now traveling constantly for work and has no forwarding address. Is it possible to stop her mail from coming here without a forwarding address?

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    Hello, I moved to a new address 2.5 years ago - however I was recently told that I am still getting mail at my old address. Is it possible to file another change of address to ensure that the mail comes to my new residence? I have no way to contact some of these people to tell them my new address, (class reunion organization). Thank you for your assistance. Best, Jill

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    I need 2 pieces of mail to come to my new address.

    Feb 04, 2018
  • anon

    Personally it sucks! I paid the $1.00 fee to change my address 3 weeks before my move. The letter arrived right on time from the post office,having to prove it was me. They denied my confirmation number that I submitted! For a whole month, I only got some of my mail. I never till this day gotten any past mail!! When I submitted a complaint,all I saw was a survey follow up! UM?

    Feb 04, 2018
  • anon

    Sister passed away on March 1 2017 Her daughter turned in a change of address for her after to my address in gainesville,fl ( where she never lived - is this legal and her present address where she lived after she died to her daughters address

    Jan 30, 2018
  • anon

    Upset about finding some of my mails in some advertisement or marketing products showing my old married last name!? How can I stop it from using my old married last name? I have been divorced for 7 years and im back to my maiden name so how can I stop the mail from using Bitsiaras-Hardy and resume to Bitsiaras? It starts showing up when I went through child custody court and somehow they used my old last name. Unacceptable!

    Jan 30, 2018
  • anon

    We moved on 9/4/17; duly filed the change of address. It seemed the mail did get forwarded to our new address. But we missed a lot of our mail during x-mas - cards etc, last week, we had some very important letters (a total of 6)delivered to the old address. Had it not been for the apartment manager, the mail would have been lying around somewhere or in the trash can at the complex. This is when I personally went and informed the Post Master in my old Zip Code (77004) two weeks ago. She assured me that her Mail Man would be watching out. They also said there's no human involvement in forwarding, it's machine's fault and that there' nothing I could do. They failed to do anything to help me. Needless to say - This is very disturbing and frustrating.

    Jan 29, 2018
  • anon

    So, the change of address card ( in the packette ) from my new apartment; is usless then?

    Jan 28, 2018
  • anon

    My daughter moved almost a year ago. I have her pick up her mail because 1) she won't put though a change of address herself, because of the issues we had in the past. 2) the last time she did this years ago, my mail went to her new address and eventually it created issues with vendors changing my address to hers. The post office's explanation was that our last names are the same and the 1st 3 digits of our first name are the same, so the computer reads it as the same name. 3) Recently , when I wrote, return to sender on some of her mail, they pulled some of my mail and returned it to sender. I'm at a loss to what I should do now.

    Jan 26, 2018
  • anon

    I put in a change of address when I moved. My daughter who was living with me moved also, but to a different address.. My daughter put in a change of address to her new address, as I did to my new address. Since I moved my Bank , insurance and employer have all changed my address without my knowledge to HER new address. How did this happen when I only put in a change of address with the USPS. Who has given the Postal Service the right to go to my bank and change the address on my accounts This is a real breach of security when the Post office has the power to change my address on all my important papers to someone else's . Why is this happening? This is outrageous!

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    This process is TOTAL CRAP!!!!! I changed my address online and had to pay $1.00 for each member of the household. Then a day later you reject my address change and tell me I need to repeat the process. I went to the Post Office nearest me and the woman there says she can't help me and I need to go to my previous address!!! What. This process should be illegal.

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    Need a change of address application

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    I had my address updated cause my crazy exe was receiving and keeping my mail from me. The postcard sent to the old address won't have my new address on it will it? I don't want him to know where I live at now.

    Jan 20, 2018
  • anon

    No, the letter sent to your old address does not have any of your new information on it, only that a change of address request has been made. The letter to your new address does have your old address on it though.

    Jan 23, 2018
  • anon

    My son moved from home when he joined the U.S. Navy. Three years after he was in the Navy, some residual mail continued to come to him at our family home address. He put in a change of address form with USPS. The problem was that he checked the box "family", intending his own family, which comprised his wife and daughter. The problem was that all (all) of the mail that we received at our home was suddenly forwarded to his new address. This had additional negative consequences. Companies, including the IRS, changed our address in their systems. This is a serious breach of security, IMHO. The process for changing address at USPS should clearly obtain permission from all impacted. My son did not intend to change the entire family's home address. None of us suspected what happened, and now, many months later, those who send us mail now send them to that address that he gave to USPS then. Not only do we now have to contact every (every) entity that made a corresponding change in their systems, but we don't know what mail we might have missed, and this is a royal pain. Please close this security breach.

    Jan 20, 2018
  • anon

    thank you

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    Have filled out 2 forms for change of address and 17 days later still nothing???? i got my change of address confirmation but not my girlfriends whats the deal with that....

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    Just wondering how do i find my mail from my old address and where does it go I don’t know how to find it ! !

    Jan 17, 2018
  • 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

    False, the USPS is not paid for by any tax dollars. It's paid for by postage, shipping fees, etc. It operates just as a normal private company, except it cannot ever raise its prices without Congressional approval. The $1 is basically just so they can validate your credit card billing address, but it is obviously FAR below the cost of forwarding all of your letters, even across the country, for a year. It's the cost of 2 stamps. If you have 4 letters forwarded you've already got twice the value back. If you would like to know how much these things would cost if they were priced fairly, look into private mail forwarding services. I think you'll find the rates are literally hundreds of times more for a year of mail forwarding than one measly buck.

    Jan 20, 2018
  • anon

    I came to BOISE USA for the first time from India.I tried to update my address but the (old address) india address is not working and this is technically true. Do i really need to update my address ,please guide me

    Jan 13, 2018
  • anon

    Did i change my address

    Jan 13, 2018
  • anon

    I have made many attempts to contact customer service and have had about four cases assigned to myself as well.There are change of address and hold mail on my online account that I did not fill out.no one is doing anything to settle this issue for me and I need you the INSPECTOR GENERAL to solve and have resolved.Thank You

    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

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