As a person who is constantly on the move, you must probably be familiar with the change of address application process. With the change of address, you make a note of your departure to the mailing carriers who are responsible for delivering your mails. After a successful change of address, your mails are rerouted to the new address mentioned in the application form. The change of address is done to ensure that the mails are kept safe and secure, away from theft. However, a change of address isn’t the only way to keep your mails away from the theft, as fraudsters can use your address as their own to commit thefts/frauds. So, what is address fraud, and what to do if someone is using my home address fraudulently? Let’s find out…
Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently
Using the change of address i.e., mail forwarding or mailbox forwarding is one way to have all your mails forwarded to a new address. Although this might sound great for someone who is always traveling, a change of address can also lead to identity theft and address fraud. Address frauds are among the major prevailing crimes that can lead to a drastic impact if not taken care of at the right time.
Learn everything you need to know about virtual PO box from here.
So, What Is Address Fraud?
If you’ve been wondering that “Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently”, then it is more likely to be an address fraud. Address fraud is more like a change of address request with the only difference that the victim has no idea that their address is being used(without their consent) for illegal activity. This is a kind of fraud in which a fake/inaccurate or somebody else’s address is used by the fraudsters for certain ulterior benefits. Here’s how an address fraud works.
USPS Someone Is Using My Address For Mail: How Does an Address Fraud Work?
Just like a change of address request, a fraudster will file a fake change of address request by filling the form 1583 Change of Address without the consent of the actual resident. They simply walk over to the local post office(as the change of address is easier when done in person) and ask for this form. After the procedure is complete, all the mails will be forwarded to the new residential address mentioned by the fraudster in the form. Once all the mails are rerouted to the new address, all your personal information such as credit card details, SSN details, important documents, and expensive packages will be stolen. As soon as your mails are redirected, the mail thief becomes in charge of your credentials and can use them in any way possible.
What’s astounding is the bare minimum effort it takes to steal your mails. The only thing needed is your Name and the current street address. Other than the name and the street address, the fraudster must also complete the $1 transaction, which is done to ensure that the change of address is verified by the user. If the fraudster fails to complete this transaction, then they will not be able to make the change of address possible.
According to the latest reports, there were a total of 17,000 complaints filed every year by the local residents claiming that their addresses were falsely claimed by someone else.
Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently: Is This a Big Issue?
Many people do not tend to think of this as an issue because they barely receive any important mails through the mail carrier services. This is actually a grave situation that requires immediate attention. Although you might not receive major bank statements through the mail, sometimes banks also tend to mail a few significant notices/reminders. As these notices might contain credit card info or SSNs, this information is critical and can be violated if it gets into the wrong hands. The fraudsters can change any financial details, sign up for credit cards, or any other services, and thereby, claim your identity.
Most of the time, people do not have any information about this activity during the initial stages. They only get to realize when grave damage has already been done.
Penalty for Address Fraud
By now, you probably know that using somebody else’s address for committing major crimes such as mail theft or identity theft is a crime punishable by law. In some areas, address fraudsters will have to serve jail time. Some of the crimes that can be committed by a change of address are bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, refusal to pay taxes, heal care frauds, and many more. According to the US jurisdiction, address frauds serve a jail time of 5 years. In certain places, a heavy fine is imposed on the fraudster along with serving jail time. For example, the Wisconsin state claims that address fraud is punishable by 6 years of jail time and a fine of $10,000.
Now let’s take a look at what can be done if someone is using my home address fraudulently.
Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently: What to Do?
Has it been a while since you have stopped receiving most of your mails? Even the junk mail and other marketing mails have also been reduced? This situation might seem normal but at the same time, it can lead to something you might not have suspected. Lack of receiving regular junk mail is one sign that leads you to think that “Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently”.
How to Check for Signs if Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently
Some of the prominent signs of address fraud are:
- Receiving a confirmation change of address form: During change of address, a mail forwarding notice is sent to the current address to ensure that the address change request was authentic. If you have received any such moving notice, then it is evident that someone tried to steal your address. If you come across any such notice, then you have to bring it to the attention of the local post office immediately
- Notifications for a new account: If you have been receiving notifications for a new account, then someone may have opened a new account in your name. Sometimes the mail thief may not open an entirely new account but rather add new people to an existing account.
What does ‘arrived at hub not out for delivery‘ mean in USPS?
Who Should I Contact if Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently
If you are certain that your mail address has been stolen, then you can contact Postal Services and let them know about this issue. However, USPS does not help you in finding out which address your mails are being rerouted to and they cannot do much to take action on the person who committed the fraud. In this case, you need to file a complaint to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service office. You can also give them a call at 877-876-2455 or file a mail fraud report.
While filing the complaint, it is important to keep all the necessary details close to you. You might need to enter every piece of information that can help the Postal Inspection service find out more about address fraud. This is the only way through which you can ask for help if your address has been stolen by someone.
Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently for Sending Letters, Mails, and Packages
If you have been receiving letters, mails, and packages which are directed to someone else, then this is something that you can do to help the situation.
- The first step is to write “Not this address” on the mail cover and deposit it at the local bank or at the collection box. You can also hand it over to the mailman who comes for regular mail delivery and let them know about the situation.
- Make sure to not open the mails that are not directed to you. You can contact the sender and let them know that the addressee they are directing the mails to does not live at the current address
- File a complaint on the official page of uspis
Someone Is Using My Home Address Fraudulently: Precautions to Take
If you have never experienced mail fraud, then you really be thankful as not many people are aware of it and the ones who do, are not really bothered as they don’t consider it that big of a deal. But now that you understand the possibilities of harm that you can encounter, then you should probably start taking some precautions. Here are some of the ways which have proved to be helpful to a great extent to shield people from address frauds.
- The first step towards saving yourself from address fraud is that you should keep all your personal details safe, without exposing them to anyone on the internet. As you already know, the internet is a rather dangerous place where every single bit of information can be misused
- In certain cases, such as signing up for a business registrations or purchases, you need to have a temporary email which does not link to your current residential address
- what’s best is that you can sign up for a virtual mailbox which keeps all your mails safe and secure in one place.
What Is Identity Theft?
Since the past few decades, identity theft has been prevalent, and not only is this a potential threat to your personal information but also your financial information. Identity theft happens when a malicious person steals all your personal and financial information and uses it to their advantage. They could use this information to:
- Buy things off of your credit card
- Request new credit cards in your name
- Open certain accounts
- Maliciously use all your health care insurance
- Pretend to be you
Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
Identity thieves steal information in many ways possible. Although you cannot prevent them from viewing all your personal and financial details completely, you can try implementing these measures which can guarantee a certain level of protection:
- Claim all your mails as soon as you receive them. If due to some reasons you cannot do so, then have your trusted neighbors or friend do it for you. Best case, use a virtual mailbox.
- If you cannot sign up for a PO box or a virtual mailbox, then you can use informed delivery instead.
- For additional security, you can use the collection box or drop your mails off at the local post office for shipping
- If you are away for the weekends or for an entire month, sign up for the hold mail service
What Can Be Done if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?
If you are certain that your identity has been stolen by someone, then follow these steps to take proper action:
Identity Theft if the Postal Service Was Involved
- You need to submit an Identity Theft Complaint online on the USPIS official website
- Request a credit reporting company to put an alert on your credit report. To provide a fraud alert, you must be able to prove your identity
- Ask the credit records from the major credit bureaus to identify if any accounts have been opened without your knowledge. You can also check your monthly statements from time to time
- Bring this to the attention of your banks wither through the mail, phone call or have a one-on-one meeting
- Report your case and bring forward all the necessary supporting documents to support your claims
- Also make sure to ask your financial institutions to inform you if they detect any fraudulent activity
Identity Theft if the Postal Service Was Not Involved
- If the postal services were not involved, then contact the Federal Trade Commission website and file a report on Identity Theft
- You can also email them at the address [email protected] or give them a call at 1-877-438-4338
The federal commission will assist your request within a few days.
If you haven’t been receiving mails, and you’re wondering “someone is using my home address fraudulently”, then chances are, you are probably right. Mail theft and identity theft are like two sides of a coin, i.e., once the malicious users get an upper hand over your sensitive details, they steal your identity and all the incoming mails. With your identity, they can commit major financial frauds and you wouldn’t even have an idea till the very last moment. It is very important to be careful with your information, both online and in your everyday life. If you find yourself in any such situation where your financial and personal information is at risk, then report them to the rightful authorities immediately.
Learn the difference between certified and registered mail by checking out this other article of ours.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
There are many ways to report the crime if your home address is fraudulently used by someone else. You can inform the US Postal Inspection Services and also inform the local postal services about it.
If someone is stealing your home address, then you will see a reduction in the everyday mails, a change in the credit history or you might also receive a moving notice if someone attempted a malicious change of address.