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What is Address Fraud and How to Detect It

Last Updated: March 27, 2023
2 min read

Table of contents

Key points about: address fraud

  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 normally get a lot of mail, but have noticed you don’t get as much as you used to, don’t think it’s simply a slow time at the post office. It could be that identity thieves have committed a mail rerouting scam on you. But what is that?

Find out how mail rerouting scams work, how they may impact your finances, and how Discover offers a way to help protect you from this and other types of identity theft.

How does address fraud happen?

Identity thieves can change your address without your knowledge several different ways. One method scammers may use to change your address is to go directly through the U.S. Postal Service, either online or in person. To change an address online, the USPS requires a valid credit or debit card and a valid email address. There is a $1.10 charge to change your address online. This may appear to be sufficient to deter unauthorized address changes. But if fraudsters have your card number or have already opened an account in your name, they may be able to circumvent this security check. There’s also a way to change an address in person at the post office, but it requires requesting a Mover’s Guide packet and having the proper information.

If they’ve gained access to your passwords or security questions, identity thieves may be able to change your address through individual institutions like your bank, credit card, or insurance provider.

How mail rerouting can impact you?

Identity thieves can do a lot of damage with information that arrives in the mail. Letters from the Internal Revenue Service often contain your Social Security number. Bank and credit card statements list sensitive account numbers. Insurance bills are full of information about your healthcare providers and medical history.

Scammers may be able to use these everyday pieces of mail to open new accounts in your name, rack up charges on existing credit and debit cards, and even use your health insurance to receive medical care–at your expense of course. Finally, by rerouting your mail, identity thieves may also have the chance to cause serious damage to your credit score and financial health before you even notice.

How you can prevent mail theft?

The USPS has a number of helpful hints in preventing identity theft through the mail including promptly picking up your mail or asking that the post office hold your mail if you plan on being away for an extended period of time.

But for just $15 per month, Discover ® Identity Theft Protection offers an additional way to help protect Discover cardmembers’ information. Discover Identity Theft Protection not only monitors for your information in the monthly updates to the National Change of Address database, but also scans thousands of risky websites for your SSN, monitors all 3 credit bureaus for key changes, and more.

Did you know?

In case the worst should happen, Discover Identity Theft Protection lets you know if your Social Security number and other personal information you add is on one of thousands of dark websites we monitor, if accounts are opened or updated in your name at any of the thousands of financial institutions we monitor daily, if someone is using your Social Security number to create new identities at Experian, and much more, all with 100% U.S.-based fraud resolution experts and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance for covered losses.1

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