Did you know that one in seven people in the United States change their address each year? Naturally, this creates a tremendous challenge for the Postal Service, which strives to maintain a high-quality repository of current addresses.

Change-of-address requests can be made in person at local Post Offices using a hardcopy form (PS 3575), or electronically using the Internet. They can even be made over the telephone. By far, the most popular way to change one’s official address is still using the hardcopy form, but those contemplating a move should consider their options carefully.

While the Postal Service’s change-of-address process generally works properly, our audit found that improvements are needed in the way hard copy requests are processed, authorized, and validated. Although Postal Service employees should reject and return orders with no signature, in some cases change-of-address orders without a proper signature slipped through. We also saw signature mismatches and occasions when Postal Service employees rather than customers signed or initialed the forms.

Is there a better way? We think there is. Our audit also examined the Internet and telephone change request systems. We found that these electronic alternatives are not only much more convenient for the customer, they are also far more effective in ensuring that only authorized and validated change-of-address requests are processed. Digital requests can be electronically matched against customers’ credentials quickly and efficiently. This results in a more secure environment, which is important because mail diverted to another location based upon unauthorized change-of-address orders is a major contributor to identity theft — America’s fastest growing crime.

There has to be a catch, you say. Well, there is. This service costs $1. We think it’s a bargain! To change your address online, go to moversguide.usps.com. To change your address by telephone, call 1-800-275-8777.

You should know the Postal Service does have systems in place to protect customers against unauthorized address changes. If a change of address has been submitted for you, the Postal Service will follow up with a Move Validation Letter. This letter is sent to your current address and notifies you that a request has been made to forward your mail to a new address. If you did not request to change your address, you should inform your local Post Office immediately as a potentially fraudulent situation may exist. In our audit, we found that the Postal Service generally sends these letters in a timely manner. Recently, the Postal Service has taken steps to further improve the timeliness of these letters, ensuring that they are processed within 3 to 10 days.

What do you think about the Postal Service’s change-of-address process? How can it be improved?

This topic is hosted by the OIG's Information Technology audit directorate.

Comments (477)

  • anon

    Im attempting to change my address online but it requires a credit card number. I do not have a credit card. What do I need to do?

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    I need help getting mail from my old residence it saying it a business no it a house next to business too the business is b the house is separate please help me

    Jan 02, 2017
  • anon

    Attempting to make a change of address for 101 year old mother-in-law (no she can't get to the post office and doesn't use a computer) the online process requires a credit card (which she doesn't have, so I have to use mine) but that delays the change for a week. How is she supposed to get to the old address to get pick up her mail while USPS takes 7 days to do a credit check that takes milliseconds to perform? No I don't want to drive 400 miles every day to do it for her. Really?

    Jan 02, 2017
  • anon

    I recently officially filed a COA form for my wife and I from a period when we lived with my parents in Arkansas. I live in Florida now and we are building a new house and will be closing on it in approx 2 weeks. We wanted to be sure mail gets forwarded from Arkansas to our current address, so we could properly have mail forwarded from this house to the new one; "we currently also have a UPS Store PO Box, that we are going to discontinue." The problem now is, my parents in Arkansas have stopped getting their mail and they are blaming me. All I did was change the Adress per MY AND MY WIFES name NOT MY MOM AND DAD. Please contact me with a resolution to this issue. Sincerely, Matthew S. Crawford

    Dec 31, 2016
  • anon

    Your address change form doesn't work. I've tried a dozen times with two different cards and it's broken, it keeps charging $1 and saying the billing address is wrong. I called your garbage phone support and spent 15 minutes getting hung up on by the most dysfunctional robot I've ever dealt with (It can't even understand "yes" and "no"). Finally I realized I could press 0 nine times to skip your pointless 2+ minute intro. I selected the option to change my address and it said to use your broken form. Thanks for wasting my time you garbage company. I guess I'll just let my mail get stolen at my old address because of you idiots

    Dec 30, 2016
  • anon

    I recently in the past few months have changed my address twice the first time my mail was coming to me and my old address still which was my mother's but my mother's mail was coming to me we had the same p.o. box before this problem is still not fixed I have had a letter returned back to a matter at the Kansas Department of Labor it's a very important matter and I almost missed a court date because this keeps happening how is this going to get fixed? My mother is also very upset that her mail is just going to other addresses and she has not changed her address in 24 years..

    Dec 29, 2016
  • anon

    I have yet to receive mail at my new address and I don't know why.

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    I would be happy to use your on-line change facility if it worked. It doesn't.

    Dec 27, 2016
  • anon

    My step daughter, who was staying with us for a short time, without my knowledge nor informing either one of us, filled out a hold mail for her using my home address. But instead of the Post Office just holding her mail, they also held mine and her father's mail too ( who just recently died). Stating that the hold mail goes only by address- not by the family name. I was also told that I did not have the authority and I could not change the hold or rescind it because my Step daughter was the one who put the mail on hold in the first place. To say the least, I was quite upset as they also informed if she complained to them because I (finally) picked up all the mail that had been on hold for at least a week and a half- that they would have to file some type of grievance and we would have to go court over this whole ordeal. This has been my home address for over 25 years and I own the home- not her nor her father, to say this is flat out wrong is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Dec 21, 2016
  • anon

    If I have never requested address change with the post office for older addresses, should I still make that request for all, or only for my current address? Or is it too late?

    Dec 20, 2016
  • anon

    I think that it is ridiculous that someone can even submit a change of address by phone or over the Internet.. My address was just recently changed fraudulently on the internet; I never received a Move Validation Letter all my mail was forwarded which resulted in the thief of my debt card, health insurance card , and bank account information. I filed a complaint with the US postal service about this situation but have received no help even though I know the address and reported such that my mail is still being sent to. I also had a address cancellation sent by my local post office. I need to know if there is anyway I can prevent someone from changing my address; or all this person will do is go back and change my address again. I have also filed this incident with my local police dept but can get no one to help me by having this investigated. I thought this is considered a federal offense.

    Dec 19, 2016
  • anon

    why cant a change of address be put in for a person who's previous address was a business address? ...a person who was living in a nursing home and now is living in their home in the community.

    Dec 19, 2016
  • anon

    I moved a few months ago and my mother (who has the same first and last name as me) mail is now being sent to my new address. It has become such an inconvenience. I even went to the post office to try to resolve the issue. They were sympathetic but said there was nothing they could do and have never incountered a situation like this. Does anyone have any idea on how to resolve this? This cannot keep happening every time I move.

    Dec 18, 2016
  • anon

    I feel someone has misrepresented me and had my mail forwarded somewhere else unknown to me.

    Dec 16, 2016
  • anon

    YOU are begging to be sued for ID theft. You do not have change of address, address on your form-3575. Your OWN employees cant be trusted. You dont follow up with my mail being tampered with. YET, you expext me to hand over a PS 3575 to one of the locals that ARE stealing my mail, and have been for 13 years. WHERE is your transparency? What do you have to hide? What, that you dont do your job anymore?

    Dec 14, 2016
  • anon

    Third party address change Internet sites should not be allowed to scam people out of there money. Had this happen to me because I googled postal address change and somehow got on to a site that looked a lot like your official site with the eagle emblem. They charged me $49.95 and twice. Had to use two different credit cards. There was no indication of the amount charged till I happened to look at my credit card info on line. This happened on12/12/16 and I immediately called both credit cards to stop payments. What a hassle but it was partly my fault for not paying close attention to the sight. I did call your fraud info line and they told me that a third party site is legal but I think since the site I used so closely matched yours it should not be legal.

    Dec 14, 2016
  • anon

    I did a change if address and I do not get all my mail, I had things sent from work and friends that used my old address an new a dress an I still did not get. Some things I get but not everything, I did it electronic lyrics and paid 1.00 and still. Now anything I send out I put my new address and all of my bills and important stuff and still I don't get everything. I feel it is my old town that possibly is not forwarding it more so then anything.

    Dec 13, 2016
  • anon

    Trying to file a change of address online and everything is fine until it asks for the $1 fee payment, I enter in everything correctly NUMEROUS times and it keeps saying my billing address is wrong, it's not. Help?

    Dec 11, 2016
  • anon

    I've had a change of address if effect since March, and they are still delivering my mail at the old address and i have no way of getting my mail that is not being forwarded..

    Dec 09, 2016
  • anon

    Hi, I filed 8 address changes but I got the new address wrong. Is there anyway you can help update my address? Thank you.

    Dec 09, 2016
  • anon

    Hello, I'm trying to find a USPS form online that will allow me to change my address to a German address (I am moving to Germany next month). The normal webform doesn't allow me to do this, since it requires me to enter a state. I Was told by clerks at the post office that i can change my address to an international one online. Is there another form for this? Terry

    Dec 09, 2016
  • anon

    Hi, I have a question/problem with a change of address. I put one in for myself and it seemed to send my father-in-laws mail to my parents house which I had my address changed to, he has gone to his local post office (a few times) and they said they've fixed this problem, but in fact it hasn't been fixed, his mail is still being sent to my parents house, and this is a big inconvenience to him since he lives no where near me, and his mail isn't getting to him. I want to help him, I guess my question is, how can he fix this problem, also I don't want this to happen again when I go to change my address again here soon, so how can I prevent this from happening and also how does he fix the problem at hand? Please he needs to get his mail, and I don't want the hassle this has brought me again when I move, what can be done to remedy this problem?

    Dec 07, 2016
  • anon

    I'm in a similar situation. I put a change of address in and although I receive my mail, my mothers mail is not also being sent to my address and she didn't move. Monique, did your issue ever get resolved? I went to the post office and they couldn't figure out how to solve the issue.

    Dec 18, 2016
  • 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

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