NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday announced new action to combat the shocking surge in “change of address” fraud, including calling for the U.S. Postal Service (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.
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.
Action Gottheimer announced today to combat “change of address” fraud:
- Bipartisan push for answers and stronger address change authentication processes from U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy: Gottheimer is sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy demanding answers on how DeJoy is planning to strengthen authentication processes, increase public awareness, and implement systems to protect Americans, prevent “change of address” fraud, and uphold the integrity of the USPS.
- Gottheimer is calling for additional “change of address” verification systems, including a government ID requirement, a two-factor authentication, and the ability to freeze any address change requests through the Postal Service.
- Urging the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General to investigate and provide answers: Gottheimer is calling on the Inspector General to move into hyper drive on investigating “change of address” fraud and identity theft, to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
- Pushing the Postal Inspection Service to solve current fraud cases: Gottheimer is calling on the Postal Inspection Service — the law enforcement arm of USPS — to redouble their efforts to get to the bottom of the many open cases of “change of address” and mail fraud. Families deserve to know that the Postal Service is doing everything they can to ensure their mail, checks, bank info, veterans benefits, tax returns, Social Security checks, and life-saving medications are safe from thieves.
Gottheimer was joined today at the Paramus Post Office on East Midland Avenue by a 35-year-long Paramus resident whose family’s address was changed fraudulently to an address in Philadelphia, resulting in criminals receiving their bills, bank statements, and Social Security numbers.
“Change of address fraud is costing our families millions of dollars and it’s costing trust in their local post office. Unfortunately, because of an egregious lack of oversight and action at the post office, far too many residents have to worry that they could be the next victim of change of address fraud. This criminal tactic is being used across the country and it’s resulting in credit cards, bank info, Social Security numbers, money, and sensitive personal information in the hands of bad actors seeking to steal from our families. A criminal could literally use the information they receive from your mail to open a new checking or savings account in your name,” Gottheimer said. “I’m calling for the Postal Service to immediately strengthen the authentication processes and require much stricter verification if you change your address, and for the Inspector General and the Postal Inspection Service to fully investigate this change of address fraud and identity theft and prevent it from happening to anyone else.”