Mail rerouting schemes send your mail directly to identity thieves. While it may seem almost impossible for a stranger to change your official United States Postal Service address, it’s actually easier than you might think. More and more, identity thieves are exploiting this security loophole to get their hands on your information.

How Do They Do It?

Identity thieves can change your address without your knowledge several different ways. The most common method scammers use to change your address is to go directly through the U.S. Postal Service, either online or in person. In order to change an address online, the USPS requires a valid credit or debit card as a form of identification. 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.

Changing an address in person at the post office might be even easier than doing so online. Identity thieves can simply go to any post office and ask for a Mover’s Guide packet that contains PS Form 3575, a change of address request that only requires a signature to be processed, according to the USPS.  If identity thieves already have an example of your signature, they can simply drop this form into the letter slot inside the post office and start the process of changing your address.

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 Can It 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 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. The California Attorney General’s Office also suggests that you check your credit reports on a monthly basis for address changes. 

But for just $15 per month, Discover Identity Theft Protection offers additional way to help protect their 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 personal information, monitors all 3 credit bureaus for key changes1 and more. 

In case the worst should happen, Discover Identity Theft Protection provides, 100 percent US-based customer service and up to $1 million in Identity Theft Insurance for legal expenses, reimbursement of stolen funds, lost wages and more covered expenses2

Published August 30, 2019

Updated January 27, 2021


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.

Identity Theft Protection:

  1. This product can only be agreed upon, purchased and delivered online. It is optional and voluntary. Full terms and conditions
  2. Key changes include: New accounts, credit inquiries, address changes, potentially negative information such as delinquencies, new public records
  3. Identity Theft Insurance is underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). 175 Water Street, New York, New York 10038. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.