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 (299)

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  • anon

    In early July, I completed the online change of address, forked over my $1, set the date to stop receiving mail at my previous address for July 11. It is now July 21, and I have not received ONE PIECE OF MAIL at my new address. I do not know where to turn to track down my missing mail, which consists of mortgage statements and bills for which I may incur hefty late fees. I tried calling the Post Office, and the wait time was over an hour. I wish there was a way to resolve this online, since I'm not sure if my mail is sitting in the post office of my former town or sitting in the post office of my new town.

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    I should be able to go into a post and fill out a change of address card for FREE!!! No one should have to pay $1 for that. This used to be a free service. This is ridiculous!

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    I paid the fee to change my address over a month ago... and my old place is still receiving my mail.. my husband who's at basic letters are goin there and because we needed on bad terms they threw them all away. I am very upset cause I paid the 1$ fee to have my mail forworded and that is not happening.

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    Just applied for`premium mail forwarding temporarly after hearing all the horror storys i wonder does it really work out were they send your mail out every wednesday it is costly but how reliable is this service

    Jul 20, 2017
  • anon

    I have noticed I don't seem to be receiving as much of the mail I used to. is there a way I can verify that all mail in my name is being directed to my home address?

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    My doctor informed me today that mail was sent back as undeliverable. I have not moved and have not gotten mail in over a week...

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    I just recently filled out a change of address to a PO box. I paid the $45. I started checking my PO box... No mail. Went to counter and was told it takes 15 days to start receiving mail. This is too long to wait for mail and why am I being charged for a box I can't use for 15 days. I wasn't informed that it will take this long to get my mail. This system needs to be changed. We are from from the days of the pony express!

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    I am trying to change my address and the credit card I am using has the correct address according to the bank accout but the change of address computer says that my address is invalid for that credit card. I tried to correct with credit card at 4 times. Help me? Thank you

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Telli, and thanks for reaching out to the USPS OIG. The Office of Inspector General is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates fraud, waste, and abuse, and as such day-to-day mailing issues are outside of our jurisdiction. For assistance with your address change, please contact USPS Consumer Affairs directly. Very Respectfully, the USPS Office of Inspector General

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    why do you give the option to change an address over the phone if when you call they tell you to do it online or at the post office

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    I've tried numerous times to change my address online, but declined my perfectly good debit card. My roommate is having the same problem. FRUSTRATING!!!

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    My sister did a family address change and had all my mail start going to her p.o. box now I can't get my mail I have changed my address at post office and online and still can't get my mail returned to me please help me fix this she has a history of fraud and theft and I don't want my credit card offers and bank statements going to her

    Jul 17, 2017
  • anon

    Just moved here.

    Jul 15, 2017
  • anon

    I want to change my adress

    Jul 14, 2017
  • anon

    I have a PO box and s physical address I just moved and I put my name on green form that the postman left in my box but now im not getting any mail at all why?

    Jul 13, 2017
  • anon

    In attempting to forward our mail to our new address, I encountered a problem. My son's last name is different that mine and my husband's. I was told that I can forward as a family ONLY if ALL of our last names match. Since his does not...he must go to the post office himself. That is NOT possible, he is away at college. There needs to be a better system. If I can prove that he's my son...(birth certificate etc) he should be able to be included in our FAMILY mail forward.

    Jul 11, 2017
  • anon

    It doesnot work i canceled a forwardimg. 2 weeks ago. Still no mail

    Jul 10, 2017
  • anon

    I had my address changed a few weeks back and just had something sent to my old address on accident...I can't change the address with the send so my question is will that piece of mail be forwarded to my new address?

    Jul 08, 2017
  • anon

    My address was changed to the person who has been using my credit cards , after some how getting my personal information. After putting me through some pretty bad heck !!!!!!!!!!!!! I notified the Police Department A the District Attorney It's been over three months . I can't believe this person is still attacking me in every conceivable way and she has my address phone cell number . No one should be able to change your address with out a proper IDENTIFICATION , is this a federal offence ?

    Jul 07, 2017
  • anon

    My adress has been changed for the 2nd time without my permission. How can the post office do this without verifying my identity? I found this out when my retirement fund notified me.

    Jul 06, 2017
  • anon

    Hello, I recently changed my address online but need a mail key to have access to my mailbox. Do I go to the post office to pick the keys to my mailbox up? Thank you Best, Jordan Romero

    Jul 03, 2017
  • anon

    I would like to forward my all mails to my new addresss

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jul 06, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 26, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address, but it won't forward

    Jun 24, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 19, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 12, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 12, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 09, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Breyonne, and thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates and audits internal fraud, waste, and abuse; and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General Team

    Jun 09, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 08, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Sheilah, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates and audits internal fraud, waste, and abuse; and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General Team

    Jun 08, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 07, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 07, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 06, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Victoria, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service

    Jun 05, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 03, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 03, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 01, 2017
  • anon

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

    Jun 01, 2017
  • anon

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

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

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

    May 30, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or visit the USPS website.

    May 30, 2017

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