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Address Fraud: Things You Should Know

You’ve moved to a new place, started a new life and everything seems hunky-dory until you realize that it is not and that you’ve been a victim of address fraud. That doesn't sound pretty, does it? But sadly, it is possible and is a lot more common than you might think. Life generally is a shift from one hustle to another and we understand how hard it must have been for you to go through the entire moving process, change your address and settle in your new house but if you do not take these preventative measures, there is always a possibility of some kind of address fraud.

We are not trying to freak you out but we certainly aim to help you by providing all the necessary information about address fraud and what can you do to avoid it. If you are already a victim of address fraud, we will guide you about what you should do to gain control over the situation. In any case, we will provide you with all the facts and data so that you can be informed about such crimes and be able to help yourself even in the worst-case scenarios.


Address Fraud: Facts and Figures

Often associated with identity theft, address fraud is a common crime across the globe, especially in the U.S.A. To simply define Address Fraud, it is a type of crime in which the criminal uses an inaccurate or false address, which can be with the intention of stealing money, confidential information, or even hiding illegal activities from the authorities. In order to make your address change process easier, the government simply requires you to fill out an online form along with your personal information and the information of your old and new addresses. You could also visit your concerned post office to do this.

This very process that exists to make your address change process convenient is one of the main reasons behind address fraud being so common as all it requires is your name and previous address at the post office. Address fraud can happen in many ways and due to various reasons. Here is some information regarding how and why address fraud is done:

  • The criminals might state your address as a place where you’ve never lived.
  • Criminals might continue to use your previous address where you do not live anymore in case you haven't officially changed your address.
  • Address fraud is also committed when an individual falsely claims a communal mailbox as their personal home address in order to take advantage of benefits available to others.
  • People have committed address frauds to not pay taxes too because some states are more accommodating as compared to the ones in which they live.
  • Many people have done address fraud to vote in a jurisdiction that is not their own.
  • People who cannot get a driving license also commit address fraud because the laws might be lenient in different jurisdictions and they might get a license there easily.
  • Some criminals use your address to open a bank account under your name to carry out their illegal activities.
  • Many parents also commit address fraud to get their kids into public schools because of the public school law which requires kids to live in the specific municipality area where the school is located.

Also See: Find Best School for Your Child When Moving

Tips To Prevent Address Fraud

Prevention is always better than cure and that's where we are beginning. Before we get into all the steps you can do if you become a victim of address fraud we will tell you all the steps that can save you from this mess. Here are some of the things you can do to avoid falling prey to this crime:

  • The first and most important thing to do is to update your new address as quickly as possible after you move. You can do this online or by going to your post office. Ideally, you should make sure that you do this as soon as you can as, trust us, the more you procrastinate, the easier it becomes for a criminal to use your address.
  • Moving is understandably a long and excruciating process where there is a possibility of you sharing your address with multiple people and here is where we would suggest you be extra cautious. Do not share your address and details unless it’s absolutely necessary that you do.
  • As far as your credit card security is concerned, you can get in touch with your bank and also request a free security freeze which will basically restrict access to your credit file hence blocking the potential criminals from using your name to open accounts. For this, you will need to go through the lengthy process of contacting each credit reporting company to place a freeze. Once you do that, it will not be lifted unless you request it so you can be assured.
  • One thing that can definitely help you avoid being a victim of address fraud is to use online modes as much as possible. The world is going digital and it offers way more security. For example, you will get a notification if you change your address online contrary to the offline process where the risk of address fraud also increases.

Signs Of An Address Fraud

Carelessness and lack of awareness around your address and moving time can easily make you an ideal prey for address fraud. Being cautious can save you from being a victim of it but there are still signs that you can look out for and take quick action against if you think any any of these resembles your situation. In these cases, make sure to act quickly so as to stop things from escalating.

  • If you have not been receiving mail for some time, you should definitely get in touch with a concerned official and enquire about the gap. This can be a sign that someone might be using your address so buckle up and raise a query before things go out of hand.
  • You usually get a move validation letter if you submit a letter for changing your address. If you get a move validation letter without sending a request, this should be your biggest red flag. Sometimes, it can be a mistake but instead of ignoring it, get in touch with an official who can help you get some clarity about the matter.
  • One of the major motivations behind an address fraud is that people want to steal your money. Be on the lookout if your zip code or billing address on your credit card is not working anymore. Get in touch with your bank and close your card as soon as possible to avoid being scammed.
  • Many criminals are often on the hunt to look for people to steal an identity from so that they can open a bank account under their names. If you get a notification from a bank about an account opening under your name, take it as a sign and get in touch with the concerned official. Ignoring it might get you in serious trouble with the law if the criminal carries out any illegal transactions under your name and/or address.

Things To Do If You Are A Victim Of Address Fraud

Sometimes you can do all the right things and take every preventative measure in the book and still have bad things happen to you. In such cases, you have to find the courage to make all the efforts so that the situation doesn't get out of hand. While we sincerely hope that no one steals your identity and that no such thing happens to you, if at all it does, you can take the following steps which will help you find a solution:

  • If you think someone is using your address, getting your mail, or has changed your address, the first thing you need to do is to get in touch with your post office. They will be able to confirm or deny your suspicion and give you the peace you need.
  • If your local post office informs you of address fraud, do not panic. They might not be able to give you a lot of information about the fraud or tell you what your address has been changed to but you can still work with the information at hand.
  • Now that you know that someone has forged your identity and changed your address, it's time for damage control. Get in touch with your local U.S. Postal Inspection Service office, which is a body that deals with address frauds and identity thefts. You can call on the U.S Postal Inspection Service’s contact number and follow all the necessary steps for registering your complaint.
  • You should have a record of all the details of the fraud that happened along with all the necessary details behind your suspicion.
  • You can also register a complaint by going to the official website of the U.S Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov. You will find plenty of information there that will help you take preventative measures.
  • If you have lost money or if the matter is getting out of hand owing to the fraud, they will get you in touch with the police and the matter will be dealt with by law.
  • It is very important for you to be patient and aware throughout the process. If your card is hacked, cancel it so that there are no further transactions and if the issue is small enough, they will sort it out for you then and there.
  • If you think your credit card is hacked, place a fraud alert on your credit file to prevent further damage while also informing the bank about the possibility of a scam.
  • You can also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) online at www.ic3.gov, which is another government body that helps you deal with matters concerning identity theft.
  • You should know that address fraud and the laws pertaining to these types of crimes often vary by location so any solution might not be a general one.

You might be reading this article after being a victim of address fraud or are just an extra-cautious individual who understands that prevention is better than cure. Either way, we hope that this article was helpful for you to get clarity about this crime and how to go about saving yourself from being a victim of it. Always be extra-cautious and do not delay changing your address officially as soon as you move to avoid the possibility of being a victim of address fraud.


See Also: Change of Address Checklist for a Smooth Relocation

FAQs On Address Fraud: Things You Should Know

What To Do If Someone Is Falsely Using Your Address?

When someone is falsely using your address, it is a crime that falls under identity theft and is known as address fraud. Depending upon the reason why this person is using your address, you can take various measures. If you are familiar with the concerned person, it will be advisable to directly speak with them about it but if that does not work out, you can get in touch with your mail carrier and inform them. You can also lodge an official complaint by contacting United States Postal Inspectors with all the information and they will handle the matter as per the law of your state.

Can Someone Use Your Address If They Don't Live There?

It is illegal and if it is without your consent, it falls under address fraud and you can complain against that. Address fraud is a punishable offense in many states with jail time for the offenders so that you can be protected. If you feel like you are being a victim of it, get in touch with United States Postal Inspectors or the U.S Postal Inspection Service online and they will certainly help you figure out the solution depending upon the intensity of the situation.

Can You Sue Someone For Giving Out Your Address?

As absurd as that sounds, you certainly can sue someone for invading your privacy. As they say, anyone can sue anyone for anything in the U.S. but you have to have proper grounds. If you have faced problems such as identity theft or any personal issues due to someone giving out your address, you can definitely sue them for invasion of privacy. You can't sue someone if them giving out your address did no substantial harm to you, in that condition your case will be rejected.