SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Sarah Smith just got a notice in the mail, telling her that someone from Oakland, California, was moving into her Scottsdale home. It came as quite a surprise.
“We’ve lived here for 12 years and don’t have anyone moving in with us,” said Smith. “We’re hoping to stay put.”
The heads-up mom contacted the U.S. Postal Service to cancel the bogus change of address request. A week later, another address change arrived.
Paige Hanson is chief of Cyber Safety Education for NortonLifeLock.
She said that redirecting someone’s mail can often lead to a “big score” for identity thieves.
“When you think about your mail contents you get, there are some juicy things in there,” said Hanson. “Personal information, debit and credit cards, gift cards. Sometimes they change an address to a different address, so they can intercept that mail.”
Hanson recommends signing up with US Postal services mail tracking system to keep tabs on every piece of mail that’s supposed to be delivered. Have alerts set up on your credit reports and immediately cancel any change of address requests that you didn’t order.
Smith is hoping her experience will remind others how easily anyone can become a target.
“You never think it can happen to you,” said Smith. “I think we all have to be vigilant and pull credit, and lock our credit, and recognize it’s a growing thing.”
U.S. Postal Inspectors recommend:
- Review your consumer credit reports annually
- Shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information
- Deposit mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes
- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends
- Check credit card statements, bank documents, and financial reports every month for unauthorized activity
- Protect Social Security numbers. Don’t carry Social Security cards in wallets or write the number on a check
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited email messages
Customers can report any suspected incident to their local Post Office as soon as they notice something suspicious related to a change of address. Or they could call the Postal Service at 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777).