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.

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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 (405)

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  • 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
  • anon

    Someone changed my adress

    Oct 08, 2017
  • anon

    My adult child was in a rehab and they required her to have her mail go to their office. Now that she's out, she's tried numerous times to change her address from the office to her new home address and the Post Office keeps saying they can't do it because it's against policy to accept a family or individual change from a business address. What is she supposed to do??????

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Sharon, 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
  • anon

    I am very frustrated by the USPS mail forwarding restrictions. My mother recently entered a nursing home. She is not capable of handling her own affairs and prior to her entering the nursing home, I handled all her affairs and will continue to do so. However, when she moved to the nursing home, I attempted to have her mail forwarded to me so that the mail would not get lost.(I had the key to her mailbox at her previous residence but there are no mailboxes at the nursing home) The USPS says because her address in the nursing home is a business, her mail cannot be forwarded. Why is the USPS making it so hard on caregivers of people in nursing homes?

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter moved her 3 weeks ago and hasn't received any mail yet, what should she do. She did receive a verification form a week ago and still no mail. Why Thank you

    Oct 05, 2017
  • anon

    my boyfriends mail got forwarded to my house and it had the little yellow strip saying someone changed his address but it was neither him or I who changed it. we have called 3 times and went to the post office multiple times and they wont tell us who changed it! they said he would have to sign for it but he obviously didnt. i am furious because if somebody can change his address then who is to say all of his information wont get stolen that way. i would like answers!!!!!!

    Oct 04, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Rebecca, 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.

    Oct 04, 2017
  • anon

    Getting a message that says billing address is wrong. I called the bank...they see several 1 holds and are not stopping them at their end. What is going on? The address is correct.

    Oct 03, 2017
  • anon

    I moved notifying post office and my bills. However others I did not contact have and sent notifications of my move to new address. HOW did these companies get notified?

    Oct 02, 2017
  • anon

    I have tried for over a week to change my address. When I do it says its unable due to incorrect billing address. I have checked several times with my bank and the billing address I'm providing IS CORRECT. I don't know why it seems to be a problem on your end. Please help.

    Oct 01, 2017
  • anon

    I have sent a change of adress in and have yet not received a change of adress validation my fiancee sent her's out the same day and has had her validation letter for days what is going on with this ?

    Sep 30, 2017
  • anon

    Do i need to present identification when filing a hard copy change of address in person?

    Sep 29, 2017
  • anon

    I received a letter for a change of address with my minor daughter's name on it . I never authorized the change of address . Help please . I tried calling the post office and couldn't get ahold of anyone . I need to know what to do to fix this . I don't want the wrong person to get ahold of her information .

    Sep 28, 2017
  • anon

    For my reason junk mail is going to wrong address (has wrong street type). I don't like this as they are credit card and loan offers. I don't want someone to try to take my identity. How do I fix this. It is for both my my husband and I. My neighbor got the mail and brought to me. My address is AVE but it show PL on the envelopes. Please advise.

    Sep 28, 2017
  • anon

    On-line change requests do NOT address disabled individuals who have a legal guardian. My son has brain damage and I am not only his mother but his legally appointed Guardian of Person. There is no way I can change his address on-line because he does not have a credit card to validate his name. Permanently disabled people who have a court appointed guardians normally do not have any financials in their name (i.e. bank cards, credit cards, etc). That is why they are appointed guardians by their respective State. I understand about security, but your on-line system completely leaves out patients with guardians. Most live with us and when we change our address, we need to change theirs. Unfortunately on-line in this case, does not work.

    Sep 27, 2017
  • anon

    or people like me who have no credit card or bank card

    Oct 13, 2017
  • anon

    I am not receiving my mail after I put a change of address in I also went to the united post office in Lee County Florida spoke with an employer made sure she pulled any old address changes out and stuck the permanent address in the system and I'm still not receiving any mail I'm waiting for a very important mail and don't know where my

    Sep 27, 2017
  • anon

    my mail is not coming to my new address. I changed my address on September 9, 2017

    Sep 26, 2017
  • anon

    A mail was mailed out to my Ex and I. He has changed his Address over 2 Months ago and no longer lives with me. Where will that letter mail be sent to? Him or me? The address that the sender sent it to was to me.

    Sep 21, 2017
  • anon

    I placed a mail forward last year and I barely get that mail. I barely get my mail daily as it is. These new mailmen/women don’t do their jobs... I’ve had to go to the post office where oh my goodness they have had buckets of my mail just sitting in the back.... my mail half the time now comes after 5 pm... or I get no mail at all... I’m still trying to figure out how I applied for a credit card and they sent it to a place I lived over 7 years ago from my credit report.... anyway ... the current USPS sucks... people getting great paychecks to do a half ass job .... smh

    Sep 21, 2017
  • anon

    I am the executor of my mothers estate and noticed recently that there was little or no mail arriving at her home, including important documents pertaining to her estate, bills, etc. Someone who had sent a sympathy card to our family at her address received the card back with a yellow Post Office sticker stating : deceased, return to sender, forwarding address unknown, I did not request this! This makes the process so much more difficult! Does the Post Office have the right to make this decision without my consent? The Post Office in St Augustine Florida told me that the mail person can return mail to sender if they have knowledge someone is deceased because maybe the family members didn't get along and would steal the mail. Seriously? Very lame and borders on misconduct in my humble opinion. This is very frustrating, please advise, Thank you

    Sep 19, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Lynda, 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.

    Sep 20, 2017

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