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by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, June 14, 2010
En español | Have you received a notice that your mail is about to be delivered to some other address? If you didn’t file a Postal Service change-of-address form, consider that letter a tip-off to a potential rip-off of your identity.
In an increasingly common ruse, scammers are using change-of-address forms in order to obtain driver’s licenses under the identities of others.
First they troll phonebooks for the names and addresses of target people.
With that information in hand, they submit a change-of-address form to the U.S. Postal Service for your address. Then, using bogus documents to establish residency at the "new" address, they ask the DMV to issue a new license—perhaps they say the old one’s been lost. Pretty soon a license bearing your name and picture is mailed to your home—and then diverted to another address where the scammer picks it up.
And, of course, all your other mail is going there too—checks and credit card statements included—which the scammers would find very interesting as well.
The good news: Once a change-of-address form is submitted, the USPS sends a verification letter to both the current address and the new one. “That letter asks if the change-of-address request is appropriate and directs you who to contact, usually your local post office branch, if it’s not,” explains Peter Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
So if you get such a letter, immediately contact the USPS. If the Postal Service doesn’t hear from you, your mail will be forwarded.
Thus far, this scam is most prevalent in New Mexico, state authorities say, with dozens of Albuquerque residents, many living in the 87111 ZIP code, having received puzzling USPS verification notices. It’s also happening in Texas. But it can occur anywhere.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.
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