Man in a bathrobe and eating cereal gets a package from a delivery man.

What is Address Fraud and How to Detect It

Last Updated: March 10, 2024
3 min read

Key Points:

  1. Mail rerouting scams, or address fraud, are when identity thieves successfully change your mailing address.

  2. Address fraud could damage your credit score or financial health if thieves use sensitive information to make unauthorized purchases.

  3. Discover® Identity Theft Protection can help protect cardmembers’ information.

If you’re getting less mail or sometimes none at all, it could just be that mail is moving slowly. However, there might be more worrisome reasons too—namely address fraud. But what is that?

Find out how address fraud scams work, how they may affect your finances, and how Discover can help protect you from this and other types of identity theft.

How address fraud can shape your daily life

Your mail can be a big target for identity thieves. Letters from the Internal Revenue Service often have your Social Security number (SSN). Bank and credit card statements can list sensitive account numbers. Insurance bills are full of information about your healthcare providers and medical history. This information about you makes address fraud a tempting way for someone to get your information.

Scammers can use these everyday pieces of mail to get your sensitive information. The damage they do ranges from opening new accounts in your name to racking up charges on existing credit and debit cards. Identity thieves can use your health insurance to receive medical care—all at your expense. Finally, by rerouting your mail, thieves also have the chance to cause serious damage to your credit score and financial health before you even notice.

How does address fraud happen?

Scammers can use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to change your address. To change an address online, the USPS requires a credit or debit card plus a valid email address. If an identity thief has your credit card number or opened a new account in your name, they can circumvent security checks.

When identity thieves have gained access to your passwords or security questions, they can change your billing address. Scammers do this through official websites like your bank, credit card, or insurance provider.

Did you know?

Discover offers Identity Theft Protection to cardmembers for $15 a month.

How you can prevent mail theft?

Safeguarding your mail is easier than you might think. Follow these practical tips that can minimize your risk of falling victim to address fraud.

  • Bring your mail inside every day to keep your personal information safe from theft.
  • If you're missing mail or the amount you normally receive is reduced, reach out to your local post office to report fraud.
  • Regularly check your credit score and credit history for any unusual activity. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus at
  • If you believe someone is intentionally sending mail to someone who doesn't live at your address, report fraud to the USPS.
  • Go paperless. Unlike your physical mailbox, most email providers add extra layers of security to protect your personal identifying information.

The USPS has a more tips to prevent identity theft through the mail on their website.

Next steps

You may also be interested in

Share article

Was this article helpful?

Glad you found this useful. Could you let us know what you found helpful?
Sorry this article didn't help you. Can you give us feedback why?

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for your feedback

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.