RELEASE: Gottheimer Leads Bipartisan Push for USPS & Postmaster DeJoy to Combat “Change of Address” Fraud and Strengthen Authentication

Mar 28, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, March 28, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) led a bipartisan effort, along with Reps. Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) and Don Bacon (NE-2), urging the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to combat the surge in “change of address” fraud.

“Change of address” fraud:

  • “Change of address” fraud is identity theft that occurs when a criminal fraudulently changes a victim’s address with the Postal Service, redirecting the victim’s mail to a new location without their knowledge or consent. 
  • Recent data shows that there has been a 167% increase in the number of fraudulent changes of address performed. Cases of “change of address” fraud and attempted identity theft jumped from 8,857 cases in 2020 to 23,606 cases in 2021.
  • “Change of address” fraud comes with significant consequences, from financial losses to missed bills and documents and delayed medication delivery.

“The process of changing an individual’s address lacks identity verification, making it easy for anyone to do so, simply by submitting a postcard or paying a small fee online. This poses a risk of fraudulent activity,”the Members of Congress wrote in a letter to U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy this week. “To prevent this, it’s crucial to ensure the system’s reliability and security by addressing this issue proactively. We ask for you to update us on how you plan to strengthen authentication processes, increase public awareness, and implement systems to protect our constituents, prevent this type of fraud, and uphold the integrity of the USPS.”

Earlier this week, Gottheimer announced new action to combat the shocking surge in “change of address” fraud, including calling for the USPS to strengthen authentication processes and require two-step verification if you change your address, and for the USPS Inspector General and the Postal Inspection Service to fully investigate “change of address” fraud and identity theft and prevent it from happening to anyone else.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Louis DeJoy

Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer

United States Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza SW

Washington, DC  20260

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy:

We are deeply concerned about the continued and increased change of address fraud that affects many of our constituents across the country. This fraud is a type of identity theft where a criminal fraudulently changes a victim’s address with the United States Postal Service (USPS), redirecting their mail to a new location without their knowledge or consent. We ask that you update Congress as to the proactive steps you are taking to prevent and address this issue.

As you know, the USPS is vital to our communities. Millions of our constituents depend on regular mail service to receive life-saving medications, veterans’ benefits, tax returns, and Social Security checks as well as to manage small businesses and connect with family and friends. With so many Americans relying on the timely delivery of their mail, we must ensure these essential deliveries continue uninterrupted.

Data shows that change of address fraud is on the rise. Recent data shows that there was a 167 percent increase in the number of fraudulent changes of address performed. Cases of change of address fraud and attempted identity theft jumped from 8,857 in 2020 to 23,606 in 2021 with 36 million change of address requests across the nation. Change of address fraud comes with significant consequences, from financial losses to missed bills and documents and delayed medication delivery.

Specifically, the process of changing an individual’s address lacks identity verification, making it easy for anyone to do so, simply by submitting a postcard or paying a small fee online. This poses a risk of fraudulent activity. To prevent this, it’s crucial to ensure the system’s reliability and security by addressing this issue proactively.

We ask for you to update us on how you plan to strengthen authentication processes, increase public awareness, and implement systems to protect our constituents, prevent this type of fraud, and uphold the integrity of the USPS. Thank you for your attention to this issue and your responsiveness to this request.

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

###

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