Change of Address Fraud

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A Rockford woman says someone else is getting her mail and could be stealing her identity, and her children's medical cards.

Toi Martin recently moved into a new home, but before she packed her bags she went to the post office to change her address.

"The paper way has always worked for me, that's what I'm used to, just fill it out put it in the mailbox and be done with it,” Martin said.

About a month after she moved in Toi realized she wasn't getting any forwarded mail. That's what made her suspicious.

"I discovered that someone went online 6 days after I did the paper version, and rerouted my mail to another address I don't know anything about,” said Martin.

That other address is a vacant apartment across town. The landlord says nobody has lived in the place for two months, but the maintenance man says Martin's mail is being delivered to an unlocked mailbox, just inside the building's unlocked front door.

It can happen. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen,” said Brian Haraway, a United States Postal Service Inspector.

The Postal Inspection Service says they process 45 million changes of address each year and mail fraud only accounts for 4% of identity theft. But, it says someone at the post office should have noticed Martin’s address changed twice in one week.

"There should have been a red flag, normally they would call us,” said Haraway.

To change an address online, you have to pay a dollar with a credit card, and the name on the card is supposed to match the homeowner's name. But, that's of little comfort to Martin, who has spent hours checking her credit report and trying to protect her personal information.

The postal inspector service says it’s against policy for mail carriers to deliver mail at vacant properties, but they can deliver mail to a mailbox, even if there's no name on it. The landlord of the building where martin's mail is being sent says he has asked the mail carrier to stop delivering mail to that vacant apartment.

To prevent this from happening to you, there isn’t a whole lot we can do. This was a fluke and they are still trying to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Just make sure you get a confirmation letter anytime you change your address.

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