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 (104)

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  • anon

    I tried the online option several times and every single time it states that my credit/debit card billing address doesn't match the address that I have entered. It does. I have called and verified this with my bank. The last phone call I made to the bank I even asked them to verify that the address for the card is the same as the address for my bank. It is. I have called the phone number listed here and that was a waste because all it said was to go online or go to the post office. Um? I've been online and that has failed me repeatedly. I work nights and sleep days so wasn't wanting to go to the post office. Frustrating. I see online that I am not the only person having this problem. What's up?!

    Dec 03, 2016
  • anon

    How can I change My address online

    Nov 12, 2016
  • anon

    Need to change my address

    Nov 12, 2016
  • anon

    I moved3 times in a year i put in my change of address internet im back in my original address recieved a letter stating change from postal its been over a month have not recieved any mail yet whats problem

    Nov 11, 2016
  • anon

    I have a current Change of Address Order in the system to Temporarily Forward Mail and want to change the "End Date" on the View, Update or Cancel a Change of Address Order. I keep getting a red error message "Sorry there was a problem processing your information". I am trying to move up the end date, since we are returning sooner. What should I be doing? Do I just CANCEL the order and enter a new Temporary Forward Mail order? There could be a few more directions on your web site, if end dates cannot be changed, then they should not be a field that is allowed to be changed. Your prompt response would be very appreciated. Thanks.

    Nov 08, 2016
  • anon

    Hello I cannot pay the $1.00 charge because only my old address is used to confirm a match with my credit card on your site. The drop down window states that either old or new address will be used to confirm a match, but on the same page it states only your old address will be considered. Uh? There is a chance to edit the address, but how is this accomplished. I would have to change my old address in the process, which is incorrect (going the wrong way with mail). Needless to say I could not change the billing address and was not able to complete the change of address process. Thanks for any advice Charlotte Cook

    Nov 02, 2016
  • anon

    The credit card verification needs to be removed. First and foremost, this is simply a way to charge money for a service which should be free thinly guised as a 'security feature'. Credit cards are compromised with such frequency I have no idea why that would be a way to determine my identity. Second, the address verification does not work. I can see three charges to my credit card which were rejected due to an 'incorrect address'. My address is correct. I had my old address on file with my credit card, that was rejected. I changed it to my new address, that was rejected as well. I understand someone making a careless mistake once, maybe twice. Obviously, this is not the case. In light of all of the previous comments regarding the 'incorrect address' issue, it's clearly the system and not the users.

    Nov 01, 2016
  • anon

    why would it allow change of address by mail in!!?? someone (i don't know) forwarded my address to NY. Called national # canceled the change of address. Went to local postal office to fill out a form to cancel it. but turned out my change of address still active locally!!! called local postal office again, supervisor said the person didn't process my cancellation!!! when i called USPS to complain about the stupid mail in change of address, answer i got was because we would send out confirmation to both address so that is a security measurement against identity theft!! but what kind of trouble and delay i am going thru and i am not getting my mails!!!

    Oct 31, 2016
  • anon

    I know that you are trying to be more convenient and release the workload by allowing online address changes. However, as someone who is still dealing with issues of identity theft based on an online address change by an unknown person it is not safe practice. I think you should not be allowed to change addresses online without official ID verification. A credit card doesn't count as credit cards are too easy to steal. Additionally, you all make it super difficult to help someone like me who has had a bunch of things compromised because of an online unauthorized address change.

    Oct 29, 2016
  • anon

    It keeps telling my billing address is incorrect. It's not. I double checked that everything was exactly as it is with the bank. The only difference is the +4 that is automatically put on to the zip code by the USPS system. I updated bank mailing address to reflect the +4, still says wrong address. Despite on every attempt saying "incorrect billing address" my card has been charged the $1 EVERY TIME. So, I've now paid $7 and I still haven't changed my address.

    Oct 25, 2016
  • anon

    Process has changed in the last year - it now requires that the OLD address must be used as your billing address for the $1 validation. This creates a problem when the OLD address is a place where you have a home and only live there for the summer or winter. In which case, after a few months you will be returning to your main home(NEW ADDRESS). The issue is that you won't have a billing address/credit card for the OLD ADDRESS as this is not your primary home. The online process didnt always require the OLD ADDRESS as BILLING ADDRESS and it's documented in the HELP for the page for the billing address and states EITHER address can be used for BILLING and the $1 charge. But no longer can you do this.

    Oct 25, 2016
  • anon

    I'm trying to change my address to our winter home and the process won't let me put the city in the box for either home.

    Oct 24, 2016
  • anon

    My address was changed without my permission. I never received a change of address letter at my home and have been trying unsuccessfully to get my address changed back to my home address. I have gone in to my local branch and while they are sympathetic they seem incapable of getting this corrected. I am missing payments to doctors, mail from my kids schools to us is being returned to sender, etc. It is an absolute nightmare.

    Oct 23, 2016
  • anon

    We own a small home in Maine and routinely will spend 2-3 months in the summer at this residence. For years I would routinely change my address on line from my permanent address in Massachusetts to Maine and reverse the change in the fall back to my home in Maine. This year however, when changing from my temporary home address in Maine back to Massachusetts all goes well until the final few steps which request a credit card (+$1.00) charge to verify my identity. Since my Maine address has to now assume the line referencing my "old" address, the instructions clearly state that the credit card must note your "old address", and since I am a resident of Massachusetts, everything stops. If I try to edit the credit card address, the system just reverts to the previous step.

    Oct 21, 2016
  • anon

    I am having the same problem. I can not edit my billing address on my charge card. Since you had this problem three days ago, why haven't they fixed it. Bad upkeep of their website.

    Oct 24, 2016
  • anon

    I recently sold my home and had a closing date of September 15th of 2016. So, 2 weeks prior to closing, I went online and did the COA via the USPS website. Everything went quite smooth with the process, the $1 billing and so on. I moved to my new address and waited for my mail to arrive as it is supposed to do. Since then (9/15/16), I can count with my hands how many pieces of mail that I have received. At my old address, I couldn't tell you the last time when I received ZERO pieces of mail. It was at bear minimum the usual junk mail and credit card offers , etc. So my question is...WHERE IS ALL MY MAIL??? Heck, even the junk mail (never thought I'd EVER ask for that) hasn't arrived. And as all of you know, it's extremely easy and such a pleasure dealing with your local post office or trying to call the help hotline. If anyone has experienced the same and had the matter resolved, could you toss some advice or words of wisdom on getting this quagmire fixed? I can only imagine who has been getting my mail and what they're doing with it...because criminals can't do any harm with it, right...? (Loads of Sarcasm) Oh, and I only moved about 10-15 miles down the road, not to another state.

    Oct 19, 2016
  • anon

    The us postal service is so important to the public.why in heavens name should anyone have to deal with the lack of paying attention to a mail request! .if you complain that particular post will retaliat at the complaint!.it is happening everyday in every state! I know for a fact! I'm dealing with it right now.a change of address turned into the biggest headache of 2016 for me.havent gotten mail since August.my pay checks my bills!they didn't follow thrugh with the proper protocol.so today Oct 18th 2016.internal affairs called and said you need to fill out another address card at your post office because they deleted you from the system. Because there was a discrepancy in the e information they had.THE INFORMATION WAS CORRECT! THEY MESSED IT UP BY NOT LISTENING OR PAYING ATTENTION! SO I STILL HAVE NO MAIL WDNT TO MY POST OFFICE AND SUBMITTED A CHANGE OF ADDRESS ALL OVER AGAIN! INSPECTOR GENERAL THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING! WE AMERICANS DEPEND ON THE US POSTIAL SERVICE TO DELIVER OUR MAIL TO US WITH OUT THE DRAMA! OUR TROOPS AS WELL! HTIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY! NOT TOMORROW OR THE NEXT DAY! NOW!

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    We moved last April and changed address with all service providers and filled out proper paperwork at the post office. We are having problems with the address change reverting back to the previous address. Examples: Visa: While the service provider assured me our new address is on the card, when I order via email, the previous PO box shows up and I can't change the delivery spot. American Family: I changed all addresses and received 5 different policies to our new address. This last week all addresses reverted back to the PO box and policies were sent there. Both providers say the new address is in their system and I should relay problems to the post office. Any ideas why this is happening and what I can do about it?

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    After my father passed away, as executor of his estate, I submitted a change of address, complete with death certificate at his local post office (for zip code 22408) on 3/15. It to weeks before I received the forwarded mail, and even longer to receive the Move Validation Letter, which I promptly used online to view and confirm that all the information was correct. Then, after only a month or two of receiving his mail, it suddenly stopped. When I went the same post office to inquire why, the supervisor I ultimately spoke with maintained that there was no record of a COA for my father's name in the system. And this was despite the fact that I could and can still see it online myself. Regardless, she insisted that, for whatever reason, there wasn't one, and suggested that I submit ANOTHER, which I did that day, 9/21. It's now been almost a month and I've only received ONE forwarded letter since then, and that was the first letter in about 5 months since I stopped receiving any. I also have yet to receive the move validation letter for the 2nd COA submission. The "system" is TERRIBLY flawed and I am absolutely shocked how much so. This is NOT the USPS that I grew up with. Please contact me and I will be happy to provide you with all the details you should need regarding this.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    I did the required steps to change my address. I received a letter notifying me of my address change, I checked and it was correct. Now my car loan, a few credits and other bills have two incorrect addresses including my credit report. This has been an extreme hassle contacting my credit cards, my car loan and others to verify that it indeed is me. I currently have two extra addresses where my mail is going to. I don't know who dropped the ball but it was dropped big time. I'm extremely disappointed with the service provided by USPS. The two other address where I'm receiving mail I do not know anyone or affiliated with anyone in those addresses.

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    I recently moved and had to have a temporary residence, and to make it convenient for everyone, I opened a PO Box. Now that we're finally settled and permanent in our new home, I realize that I no longer need the PO Box. In trying to close out the PO Box, I was informed that I needed to do a change of residence form, but the post office is out of such forms and asked me to do it online. The only problem is that I've updated my addresses with banks, and none of the banks/credit cards, use the PO Box address anymore so I can't seem to update it online either. What can I do in this situation? Many thanks, Monika

    Oct 15, 2016
  • anon

    I received a letter from the post office saying they had received a change of address order for my family at my current address, and that if it was incorrect I should call. Since I did not initiate a request I called but without the confirmation number of the original request was unable to navigate through the automatic prompts. Seems pretty Kafka-like to me! I am going to try going n person to the Post Office today. Wish me luck!

    Oct 15, 2016
  • anon

    When you are mailing certified letter and persons address has changed, do the postal office change it to correct address and proceed to deliver it?

    Oct 15, 2016
  • anon

    You are correct that electronic alternatives are much more efficient for processing change of address. So why has the USPS changed it's online protocol within the six months to make it impossible for many patrons to use, creating wasted effort for both? Specifics: We like millions of Americans have 2 residences. For 15 years we have moved between both, processing temporary address changes online. The new form mandates use of only the "old" address for credit card validation. All our credit cards are registered to what currently would be our "new" address (which we've had for 15 years, and is valid for our credit card transactions). So now as we prepare to move from NY to Florida (from our "old" to our "new") your system won't process an online change. Wasteful and distressing.

    Oct 14, 2016
  • anon

    I changed my address on Sept 20th 2016 and my husbands mail is still going to the old address and I have not received anything .

    Oct 11, 2016
  • anon

    It's interesting to see that the credit card billing address problem where you cannot specify the "New" address as the billing address has been receiving complaints for several months now and still there has been no USPS response, the problem has not been fixed, and the paper form is not available on line.

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    I forwarded my mail and havnt received anything In about 3 weeks

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    I split time between homes one in Florida, which is my permanent residence, and one in Ohio. I have done temporary change of address online for a number of years. Recently, when I tried to do this I could not complete the request because the USPS web site now requires that the billing address for the credit card used for the $1.00 fee be the same as the old address. In my case, that is the Florida address while Ohio was the old address. I then had to print a form and give it to my carrier. I never received any type of confirmation. When I called the Ohio post office, the person I spoke with had no clue about the new online address requirement. He said that it could take 2-3 weeks for my printed request to be processed. I find this to be totally absurd. From my research, it appears that USPS made this change to prevent fraudulent address changes. However, there must be a better way. How can USPS just assume that the old address is the billing address?

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    I had this same problem this October because I also have two houses. Never had this problem before but since the online system requires the credit card address from the old address I have to submit the change manually at the post office. Could the post office issue a password to you at the old address or find another secure solution so we could make changes online?

    Oct 23, 2016
  • anon

    The web site claims that I can enter an alternate billing address for my credit card, but there is no place to actually do it. It's off to the Post Office with the paper change of address form. So much for Internet automation.

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    I too have this problem. I thought the easy thing to do would be to go to the post office and pick up the form and leave it for the mail carrier. But when I got there, because it's Sunday and only the lobby is open, I looked for the form where they usually have things like that. All that was there was a flyer telling me I should do it on line. Back home again, I tried to find a PDF version of the form on the Internet - no luck there. Then I thought I'd see what would happen if I said this is a permanent instead of temporary change. BINGO! It let me specify the new address as the billing address for the card. I kept going thinking I could change from permanent to temporary later in the transactions, but no, it processed the change for me. I went to the link in the confirming email telling me I could modify or cancel, and that one element, "Permanent", was one that could not be changed. So I cancelled the order and will probably be billed the $1.00 anyhow. I am glad the USPS is moving toward more online services, but they really need to A. continue to support people who prefer not to use the computer, and B. Thoroughly test their new systems to be sure that they work properly. In this case, they have done neither.

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    I have the same issue. I've been doing this change for years, now I have to go to the post office to change my address because it won't accept the billing address for my Florida address. This needs to be returned to the way it was!

    Oct 07, 2016
  • anon

    I have moved a lot in my lifetime and never had a problem getting mail. I simply gave my new address to the entities that would send important mail and it arrived. It was so simple until this year. The mail carrier insisted that our names be posted on the mailbox or we were not going to get any mail. He left a card with a menacing message that read "no names on card = no mail." We complied and even though we don't like our names taped to the mailbox for the sake of privacy, he insisted so we did what we were told. All of a sudden, we got mail from weeks ago and other people's mail, as well. I moved again, told the important people my new address, even filled out a change of 1.00 coupon book form online. Still no mail. I hope my new carrier is not waiting for me to tape our names to the box. What ever happened to the postal service? STamp, address, done!

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    I travel back and forth every few months between my 2 homes. When I tried to place a temporary forward from my CT home to my AZ home, I was unable to do so because I could not update the billing address the system displayed for my credit card. The system incorrectly assumes that your "old" address in the request is your permanent residence and therefore must be the official address for your credit card and does not give you the option of correcting the information. This is very frustrating and a huge problem for people who travel between locations. As a result, the only way I can do a temporary forwarding is to wait in line at a Post Office before I leave. This is a major flaw in the system when you are unable to process your request online unless your credit card address matches the "old" address which the USPS has taken the liberty of assuming is the credit card billing address.

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    Official Change- of -Address Validation letters are sent to your old address addressed to Current Resident or the person who made the address change. This gives a current Resident the right to open someone else's mail (which is illegal). It is not the Current Resident's business so why does the USPS send out the Official Change-od-Address Validation this way?

    Sep 25, 2016
  • anon

    I agree. In my situation I have already moved. I do not want to go through with it this way simply b/c I know that if I do then they will send a validation to the old address and I'm no longer there and like you said it's not the resident's business but I'm sure they'll open the mail anyway b/c who's there to tell them they can't? On top of that my credit card info will not match the old address! I have no choice but to go to the post office.

    Oct 13, 2016
  • anon

    I submitted a COA over 1 month ago and still have not received my mail. I had a birthday and didn't get any of my cards. I checked with my old post office, new post office, old address, new address, and filed a case over the phone. Still have not received any mail even though they said they "fixed the issue". I just want my birthday cards :(

    Sep 23, 2016
  • anon

    I'M ATTEMPTING TO FILL OUT A COA FORM ON LINE. ERROR MESSAGE WON'T LET ME ENTER APARTMENT OR SUITE NUMBER.

    Sep 22, 2016
  • anon

    I requested that my mail be forwarded officially but to date I have not received any mail. Last year I had the same problem and even received mail to my new address that did not belong to me, my mail did not arrive. What must I do?

    Sep 20, 2016
  • anon

    Tried to do a temporary address change online. Your system did not give me an option to change the billing address for my credit card. Frustrating.

    Sep 20, 2016
  • anon

    The online system is totally broken. It requires you to have a current credit card using the OLD address for "verification". Says you can edit address but does not let you. Stupid. Typical but just plain stupid.

    Sep 19, 2016
  • anon

    I am having the same problem, we also travel back and forth between two homes. I notified them in July and it is still broken. It used to work, the billing address had to be either the old or new address and you could pick. If they wanted to eliminate that option for security - it would make more sense for the new address to be the billing address (how often will you fail to notify your credit card company of your new address?). It also says that you will be given the option to print and mail the form, but that is no longer available either. If you search for the form online, they point you right back to the same online process. So, they want more people to use the online service - but they won't fix it!!! SO VERY FRUSTRATED!!!-

    Oct 11, 2016
  • anon

    SAME PROBLEM!!!!! PLEASE FIX THIS!!!!!!

    Sep 24, 2016
  • anon

    I moved about 3 months ago. I changed my mothers address and put family thinking it would change mine too. We recently moved back to the same location that i never changed to begin with. I havent received my mail in 3months would the post office have my mail? And would i need to put in a request for an address change even if i never submitted 1?

    Sep 15, 2016
  • anon

    Recently moved from MA.To TN. My wife and mother share the same first name although spelled differently. Now we are receiving all my mothers bills causing her hardship and legal problems, ie. mortgage credit and insurance. Any legal advice can the usps be held responsible. I think so.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    Did a change of address, approximately, 6 months ago, but the last two weeks, hadn't been receiving any mail at the address. Wanting to know, what's going on? Thx, for ur prompt response. 77063

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to know if I can obtain a copy regarding me changing my address. I believe someone recently changed my address without my permission.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    We need to change the date our temporary addrds change ends. The internree form requires the confirmation code. We lost it. There should be another was to access the change of address to edit it.

    Sep 11, 2016
  • anon

    My mother moved into assisted living 13 months ago. I have recently sold her house. It closes on 9-15-16. Since I am my mother's primary care giver and handle her bills, I would like to forward her mail to my home address. She does not have a credit card. How can I complete the form without a credit card in my mother's name? Thanks John Milledge

    Sep 11, 2016
  • anon

    THE USPS ONLINE ADDRESS CHANGE SYSTEM IS NOT SECURE, DON'T USE IT!!! I was just looking for the form to download and fill out. The last time I changed my address with USPS I found a $40.00 dollar charge from some address scammer that was allowed access during the USPS address change process. These scammers charged my account for an 'Address Change Service' which I did not ask for. I called USPS and told them and their response was, 'DUH What, we can't control it. I said it's your system they came through so you are responsible for your system. Therefore, the USPS online address change system is far from secure and your method of payment will be shared with scammers. I would not recommend using the online system since USPS cannot prevent scams via this process and it is not SECURE as they claim it is. Plus, USPS Customer Service? Dream on folks, they won't do a thing about it.

    Aug 29, 2016

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