Man avoids change-of-address scam

OKEECHOBEE — Ron Jones received quite a surprise Saturday: He had apparently moved, but didn’t know it.

In fact, if it hadn’t been for the letter from the United States Postal Service (USPS) he would have had no idea his new address was in Miami, even though, he was still living in Taylor Creek Isles.

Since both the envelope and letter were official, Mr. Jones went to the local post office for some information.

USPS representatives there told him the address change was a scam, but would not give him the numerical address in Miami.

“They only verified the address had been changed,” said Mr. Jones, Tuesday.

“They also gave me some different web sites for information purposes.”

Since then he has talked with a postal inspector who is handling the investigation, and has talked with his local bank to ensure his account is safe.

Mr. Jones, 64, said his credit and debit cards are protected.

When asked how scammers could have stolen his information, Mr. Jones only shrugged and said: “They can pull it up on a computer from anywhere.”

The ‘snail mail’ change-of-address postal fraud comes in two varieties — both, of which, are to steal a person’s identity.

• In the first instance, a crook changes your address so all your mail gets diverted to them. They can then steal whatever information they desire before the victim notices anything is wrong.

• More commonly, the scammer has already stolen the victim’s identity and is arranging for credit card bills to be taken out in the victim’s name to go to another address.

The postal service now conducts security checks when notified of an address change. But, if you’re used to getting mail every day, contact them after a couple of empty days.

Monitoring your credit report is the most likely way you’ll be able to discover if someone has stolen your identity and is using another address.

So, watch out for a letter from the USPS like Mr. Jones that reads: “The Postal Service has received a Change-of-Address order asking us to forward mail from the following address to the person named below:”

If you receive such a letter, and you haven’t changed your address, take it to your post office immediately. You are also asked to call: 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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