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 (184)

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  • 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

    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
  • anon

    I have 2 addresses. One is my home address and the other is a PO BOX. The post office will only deliver to my assigned PO BOX. This is what's happening. UPS or FEDEX gets my home address and then my package changes over to the post office to finish my delivery where the post office doesn't use my home address. If they feel like looking it up, I get my package. If they don't it gets sent back. Including my medicine, credit cards and other important mail. I have been fighting with companies to add a PO BOX address line to their forms. When the real problem lies with the post office. Why can't the post office find an easy program to show which addresses goes to which PO BOX? It's very frustrating to the people who work at the post office as well as my neighbors. Right outside the fence where I live is where the PO BOXES are located. Why can't we have our real home addresses put on the boxes instead? I'm sure this hasn't been a big problem in the past but now that more and more people are ordering online it's just going to get worse. Thank you for your time!

    Mar 16, 2017
  • anon

    My family was a victim of change of address fraud and it has been a major undertaking to change bank account numbers, cancel credit cards, freeze credit reporting files, change back utilities to the correct address, file fraud reports with the proper authorities, etc. This was done by someone forging our signature on the hard-copy change of address form and putting it through the mail system. We did not receive a Move Validation letter from USPS and our local post office was not able to show proof it had been sent. It is way too easy for someone to change an address by hard-copy in the mail. They just mail it and the USPS does it!! I have contacted the US Postal Inspection Service, USPS Inspector General, USPS Address Fraud, USPS Criminal Investigation Service, the OIG Hotline Team, the Federal Trade Commission, and no one seems to care this is happening. We have the physical address that the mail was forwarded to...can't they go after them? If they did it to us and got away with it, I am sure they are doing it to many others. I feel this method should be banned and if someone needs this service of address change, they can go to the post office to show necessary identification. There are post offices convenient everywhere in the U.S. If anyone can tell me how this law or policy can be changed, let me know because I'm fighting mad and I'll start a major movement to get it done.

    Mar 15, 2017
  • anon

    Why in the world would you allow someone (anyone) to change an address on line or by telephone? If a person's identity is stolen (as mine was) the criminal has everything they need to perpetrate a change of address without the victim having any input at all. Sending the notification to the victim 5 days later is too late since the mail forwarding begins immediately. If you can't show up in person and show some identification, then you don't need to change an address for any length of time. You are in effect making it easier for the criminals. The least you could do is allow people to put a block on address changes to prevent identity theft.

    Mar 13, 2017
  • anon

    My fiancee left his wife and did a change of address to a PO box for just his mail. about 2 weeks later she did a "Family Forward" which cancelled out his Individual forward. This makes no sense and has caused big issues for us since we are going through the divorce and he hasnt received ANY mail since his forward so she is getting it all. This needs to be fixed for people going through bad divorces.

    Mar 13, 2017
  • anon

    I change my address to my new adress on January 2017 after i moved. They send the oficial letter that they recieved my changen of address request and that i will receiving my letters by February 4 2017 but i dont recieved my mail yet since then i had been like four time in the local office reporting that i did not receiving my mails. My last time that i made the reporte to my local office was March 8 2016 .... they said that i should wait .... I want to know what i should do about this problem ? If you can help me i will appreciate a lot. Thank you in advance

    Mar 10, 2017
  • anon

    My son and I have the same name except for the middle initial. When he left the house and put through a change of address all my mail was forwarded to his address. Apparently the middle initial is ignored by the Postal Service. Many, many problems have resulted from this. (1) At least there should be a warning that this will happen. (2) Ideally there would be a procedure to prevent this from happening.

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    I keep being told by credit card comoany that they receive updates drom the usps of an updated address for me for an address i moved from 3 years ago. I completed a change of address when i moved. I get mail at my current address by have had some returned probably because of this reason. Why is this happening and how doni stop it drom happening again? I have missed toll bills because they were sent to my old address causing my bill to go up higher . This is an issue i need resolved asap

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    If my husband ask for just his mail to be changed what happens to mail with both names on the letter

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    I do not believe sending a notice to your previous address is a good idea some people may not want new tenants knowing there new address that is stated on the confirmation letter sent to old address. That is a safety risk in many ways and I think personal identification should be required instead.

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    I completely agree. Some people need to change their address discreetly, so that a controlling person they are getting away from is 1. not able to know they are getting out and 2. not know where they are going (as they can open the verification letter and find out).

    Mar 04, 2017
  • anon

    I placed a forward mail change to new address and I am recieving my mail, but also I'm getting my fathers/mothers mail since I moved from their address. My dad and I have similar names, but doesn't explain why I'd be getting my moms too. How do I go about receiving my mail and not theirs ?

    Mar 01, 2017
  • anon

    I have the same problem

    Mar 02, 2017
  • anon

    I moved more than a year ago and I changed my address in a post office too.I founding out that a couple places I know I report my address change but they still sending important -confidential- tax return papers to my old address.how can I stop that mail deliver to my old address? If post office dont forward it after 3 month least dont leave in that old address mailbox because the people leave there now dont send them back.who knows what they do with my mails.Its scary.

    Feb 28, 2017
  • anon

    I have the same problem, I moved and I'm having to pick up important mail from the old address. Where the ex girlfriend lives. Thanks a lot usps

    Mar 05, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter with same last name moved out. Change whole family instead individual. How do I reverse?

    Feb 25, 2017
  • anon

    How do I get a copy of the change of address verification email with my number in it? I accidentally deleted the first one and can not recover it.

    Feb 25, 2017
  • anon

    I filled out an online TEMPORARY (3 months) change of address with my local P.O. I received a confirmation back and the receipt for the $1 charge (for verification purposes) to my credit card. Fast forward to 2 mths later, I come back to town and not a single piece of mail had been forwarded to the new address! When I called the local USPS manager, he took all the info. and said he'd call me back. Fast forward to a week later and nothing. I called back again and speak to a different person in charge. I repeat the whole story and she said she'll call back. Lo and behold.. she did! Then she drops the bomb on me.. She says "THE SYSTEM..." changed my address 3 days after I placed my order... and a few days later, "THE SYSTEM" changed it AGAIN... Both times with the wrong info. In other words, almost 3 months of my mail had been sent to a store near the forwarded address and some of it was also sent to limbo.. because that second change "THE SYSTEM" placed was to a non-existent place.. There were no apologies or remorseful explanations. The tone was basically "The system did it and it is what it is.. and the next time you place a change of address, you should do it the "right way"..." ????? I drove to the store that allegedly was receiving my mail and I was told by the manager, in a very clear and firm manner that, IF they had received any mail meant for someone other than the store, they would have shredded it. I was stunned.. and asked him to repeat. And he unequivocally reafirmed that "IF we received any mail not addressed to someone in the store, we shred it. Every. single. time...!" I feel powerless before the USPS... It's a federal offense to mess with the mail but NOT if it's done by them??? I have searched and searched but can't find someone to complain to about this. Every link takes me right back to that office and that manager who delivered the bomb of my gone to hell mail with no charm, kindness or care whatsoever! I can't believe that they can get away with these issues with such impunity...

    Feb 24, 2017
  • anon

    I have a new condo association and I am trying to let the post office know about the address. There was no former address. What do I do?

    Feb 22, 2017
  • anon

    I just received a call from my previous landlord that Some of my mail is still going to them. I moved and changed my address a long time ago and they are still getting my important mail. What can I do to have all my mail go to my current address?

    Feb 21, 2017
  • anon

    We purchased a business from a company that owns multiple other businesses At one address. How do I change the address for my business Only. The businesses all have different names. Thank you

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    Someone fraudulently had our mail forwarded because they applied for credit cards in our names and wanted them forwarded to their address. We didn't get notified for 10 days and our mail was forwarded during this time. What prevents them from doing it agin?

    Feb 18, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address for my family, feb 4. I did receive a confirmation letter, and it's been well over 10 days. We are waiting on very important things and haven't received anything that has been forwarded. What's taking so long?

    Feb 17, 2017
  • anon

    I did a change of address 6 months ago and now it's tax time and I still have not recieved my w-2s, what can I do???

    Feb 11, 2017
  • anon

    I had placed a change of address and was recieving my mail finally but also getting my fathers mail since our names are only one letter off and we have the same middle initial and last name . I had to cancel my change of address and no longer receive mail . Is there a way to go around this so I won't receive his mail ?

    Feb 09, 2017
  • anon

    I received notification of an address change that I didn't not submit. I am not moving, nor have I recently. The email I received from changemyaddress@usps.gov stated that the change of address was request on my behalf by a third party. What?! I'm very concerned about identity theft; please help!

    Feb 08, 2017
  • anon

    Not able to change my address online. It says billing address of my credit card is wrong, even though it is correct. I tried other cards and it says the same thing. Can you please fix this??? I am moving in 5 days and this is so frustrating.

    Feb 05, 2017
  • anon

    I submitted a change of address online and received mail for the first week, but nothing for 3 weeks. What should I do?

    Feb 04, 2017
  • anon

    I recently put in a change of address and i moved into my permanent home and now i need to update it again.

    Feb 03, 2017
  • anon

    For the third year in a row I am not receiving my mail. I am a snow bird and have been coming to Florida for 12 years. I called the post office and they assured me the mail would be forwarded. It came for 2 weeks and is now going to my old address. Last year the postmaster in Florida emailed the other post office and it still did not come. What can I do to get my mail correctly?

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    I put in a change of address on line from my post office box to my new address but it would not go through I didn't not receive no conformation did I do something wrong please help

    Jan 29, 2017
  • anon

    I moved November 9th 2016 and had my address changed online, I made the mistake of saying family when it's supposed to be individual. That same week I called and went to usps office and had that fixed. Now after several calls, complaints, visits I am still receiving my parents mail. Not just that... I am now receiving my brother's mail even though he had lI've in a place of his own for the past 3 to 4 years. I am furious about this everyone I called says my address is fixed but somehow my parents and my siblings' mail are in my mailbox with my address listed. INCLUDING the ones who havery a place of their own for years. I am losing my patience. I have had to spend more money and it's still an issue. WANT THIS FIXED NOW!!!!!!!!!

    Jan 29, 2017
  • anon

    I put a COA in at my parents house like 2 years ago but I need some stuff to go there how can I pull that change of address ?

    Jan 27, 2017
  • anon

    Fix your form, please. It will not accept apartment numbers. This is insane. I apparently cannot have my mail forwarded to my new address because your system doesn't work.

    Jan 26, 2017
  • anon

    Is there any way I can find out the dates of each address change we made through the years ?

    Jan 25, 2017
  • anon

    Not able to change my address online. It says billing address of my credit card is wrong, even though it is correct. I tried other cards and it says the same thing. Can you please fix this??? I am moving in 5 days and this is so frustrating.

    Jan 25, 2017
  • anon

    IM TRYNG TO FIGURE OUT IF I DID THE RIGHT CHANGE OF ADDRESS BECAUSE IM NOT RECEIVING ALL MY MAIL

    Jan 24, 2017
  • anon

    I filled out a change of address form and now I am receiving my parents mail, but not my own. Did I fill this out wrong? How should I address this issue?

    Jan 23, 2017
  • anon

    My husband and I did a change of address online. He hasn't received any mail since. :/

    Jan 23, 2017
  • anon

    Address change needs verified before forwarding. A stalker changed my address, mail was forward on 9 th, didn't receive verification form till 15th. Lost government checks, no call back from post office.,form looked like 5 yr old filled out, how smart are they.

    Jan 20, 2017
  • anon

    My son has the same name as I do and when he bought a house recently he requested an Individual change of address. Now the post office is sending all my mail to his house and they are saying they cannot fix the problem. My creditors are receiving notices from the post office that my address has been changed. This is a concern to many of them since now that I am no longer getting my mail I have missed some payments that were always on time before and they think I have moved. Help!

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    The system doesnt work. I followed the steps since i didn't move. I called yhe same day i received the validation letter. It has been two months with several visits to the west scranton post office. I have called at least once a week. I still cant get my mail. I have lived at the same address for close to 30 years.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    I think a person making a change of address form should have to prove they are the person who is moving. If it is a single person or family all involved should be present and show proof of identification.

    Jan 15, 2017

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