No one ever expects to be a victim of identity theft. But the unfortunate truth is that it happens more often than you might think.
According to AARP, one in four people is the victim of identity theft in the United States. Unfortunately, criminals don’t always need your personal information to steal your identity – they can simply hijack your mail by falsely changing your address without your knowledge.
So, what can you do to help protect yourself from this form of identity theft? Here is more information to help out.
Why Would Someone Change Your Address?
Here are a few reasons why someone might want to change your address without your knowledge:
- They think you’ve moved and want your mail forwarded to them.
- They’re trying to scam you, hoping that changing your address will throw off any attempt to track them down.
- They’re trying to harass you and hope that by changing your address, they’ll be able to send you unwanted mail or make it difficult for you to receive important mail.
- They want to steal your identity and think that by changing your address, they’ll be able to get your mail and use it to open new accounts or make other fraudulent charges.
- They’re trying to interfere with a legal proceeding, and they hope that by changing your address, they’ll be able to keep you from receiving important documents related to the case.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to be aware that this is a thing that can happen, so you can take steps to help protect yourself.
What Happens If a Scammer Has Your Mailing Address?
It’s not just the IRS that can come after you if a scammer has your mailing address. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that scammers might use your address to commit all sorts of identity theft, including:
- They can open an additional credit card, utility or other accounts on your behalf
- Adding your identity to existing accounts as an authorized user
- Renting or buying property on your behalf
- Getting a job or filing for unemployment benefits using your sensitive information
- Getting a driver’s license or other government ID on your behalf
- Moreover, anyone can file for bankruptcy on your behalf to avoid returning the debts they’re incurred
- Sending you bogus bills or collection notices for products or services you didn’t purchase
- Commit medical identity theft
- Identity thieves committing a crime in your name
What’s more, a thief can give your billing address to the police as their own if they’re pulled over for a traffic violation or are wanted for another crime as a part of criminal identity theft.
This can lead to the police coming to your door, looking for the individual who used your address. Identity theft can wreak havoc on your finances and your credit scores as well. It can take months or even years to recover.
How Can I Find Out If Someone is Using My Address?
An address scam is undoubtedly a serious issue resulting in some lasting consequences for people. It can be difficult to catch, especially if the perpetrator is careful. However, there are some warning signs that you can be on the lookout for.
One common sign of address fraud is receiving bills or mail you did not sign up for. This may happen if someone has used your address to open new accounts. If you start receiving bills for products or services you didn’t sign up for, it’s important to take action immediately.
Another common sign is the strange activity on your credit report. If you see unauthorized charges or inquiries from companies you don’t recognize, it’s possible that your address has been used to commit fraud. Some other signs can include:
- You see the mail in your mailbox that is addressed to someone else, or you stop receiving mail.
- There is a sudden increase in the amount of junk mail you receive.
- You start receiving bills or other correspondence for services you didn’t sign up for.
- You notice suspicious activity or inaccuracies on your credit report.
If you suspect your home address is being used fraudulently, you should contact your local police department.
They may be able to help you investigate the situation and take appropriate action.
Where Can I Report a Change of Address Fraud?
There are a few options available to those who believe they may have been the victim of change of address fraud. The best course of action is to contact the United States Postal Inspection Service.
They are the law enforcement branch of the USPS and are tasked with investigating any potential crimes involving the postal service, including change of address fraud.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not investigate individual cases, but they do use the information gathered from complaints to help them detect patterns of fraud and other illegal activity.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, you can file a report with the Identity Theft Resource Center. The ITRC is a non-profit organization that provides assistance and resources to victims of identity theft.
Finally, you can always contact your local police department to file a report. While they may not be able to do much in terms of investigating the change of address fraud, it is always important to document any potential crimes.
If you want the investigation team to find the real culprit who was involved in the fraud of changing your address, you have to cooperate with the team.
For this cooperation, you must provide as much information as possible to strengthen your complaint. Either it is any suspicious package you got or letter you received.
Inform the enforcement team if you’ve seen counterfeit changes in your bank account or credit card. Let the team know if you are suspicious about any business or any other person who may have had your address changed without permission.
Address Change Monitoring
You can also sign up for an identity theft monitoring service such as IdentityIQ. This service provides change-of-address alerts in real-time. So, you can act quickly if a bad actor has fraudulently changed your address.