In previous times, theft was commonly associated with stealing money or material possessions. Due to how well our information technology has evolved, one of the most common forms of theft is identity theft. Hackers usually seek out individuals with good credit scores to steal their identities. With your credit card or other personal information in their possession, they shop and divert the delivery to their homes.
Moreover, the ease of changing your address with the United States Postal Service has made it quite convenient for them. Because this change can be made online, an address change is quite easy to perform. This article discusses methods hackers use to change your mailing address, shop with your identity, and deliver products to them. Find out more below:
What is Address Fraud?
Many cybercriminals are taking advantage of users’ financial information stored online. Address fraud is one of the most blistering kinds of identity theft. It is also one of the easiest frauds to pull off, making it problematic.
This is because a mailing address change was structured to make it easy for people who relocated to a new residence. However, this same convenience is what cyber criminals exploit to steal from you. With a combination of your current address and a forged signature, packages can be redirected anywhere.
USPS has made some moves to circumvent address fraud. The most notable is sending move validation letters to your previous and new addresses when requesting a change. What overturns the efficiency of this process is that those letters take weeks to get through. This affords hackers the luxury of buying time to execute their attack.
Hackers are quite difficult to outsmart, as they’re always devising ways to nullify security measures. They have devised a means to get around these letters. This involves requesting a hold on the letters, with an excuse of being on vacation. This again buys them time to plot.
How Can a Hacker Change My Mailing Address?
You may find it surprising that anybody can change your delivery address by entering a little information on the USPS site. This is concerning, considering the severity of the issue.. This is how it’s done:
- They visit mymove.com and go to the change-of-address form there.
They then fill in the required information, including email, phone number, and your former and new addresses. USPS then asks to know who’s moving. They also ask you to specify when you’d like the postal service to start sending in the mail with that address.
- They’re then prompted to pay $1.10. This, of course, is a very little amount compared to the financial bankruptcy they’re planning for you. This money serves as an identity validation fee. Anybody demanding an address change would have to pay this amount via their debit card. This is a cakewalk for the hacker since he has your credit card. This could’ve been obtained from a phishing link, retail site account compromise, or RFID cloning.
- The post office then sends mail to the old and new addresses, confirming your move. The mail to the new address takes 5 working days to arrive. This is enough time for a hacker to bypass this identity verification.
Every step explained above requires online engagement to accomplish. However, an in-person change of address can still be done. This requires one to visit the U.S postal service. Most hackers prefer the online alternative since it’s more convenient and masks them from their true identity.
What are Signs of Address fraud I should be Aware Of?
To avoid addressing fraud, a user needs to be aware of their online surroundings. Here are some address fraud signs you should look out for:
You Stop Receiving Mail
If you get mail and then all of sudden stop receiving it, you may have fallen victim to address fraud. If this happens you may need to contact your post office. They will look into your address change history and give you the details. If you are a victim of fraud then law enforcement will need to get involved.
Your Credit Card’s Billing Address Changes
Some users only find out they’re victims of address fraud when they use their credit cards. The billing address they registered the card with wouldn’t register as valid. If this happens, contact your bank immediately if you get a notification that your billing address is wrong and you haven’t made any changes. You need to disable your credit/debit card quickly and view the account activity to open fraud claims if needed.
Notifications of New Accounts
With the information hackers get from your credit card, they can open new accounts under your name. A nonchalant user may assume this was a mistake and ignore it. It is a good idea to take these “mistakes” seriously, and check your email, balances, and account settings for fishy behavior:
How Can I Avoid Address Fraud?
- Guard Your Credit Card Details: Credit cards are gold mines to crackers, and they will do anything to lay hands on a carelessly stored one. As a user, your responsibility lies in protecting it and treating it as private property. It is also a good idea to sign up for a virtual credit card, and use that for online retailers and bills. A virtual credit card hides your real credit/debit card details from the database you are using as well as any attacks that target that account.
- Use Secure Payment Options: Luckily, many payment gateways have now adopted the use of secure verification methods. An example is the use of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) & Transport Layer Security (TLS). They encrypt your network traffic transmitting sensitive details to the billing system. This way, your personal and payment information stay protected when going to and from the server.
- Sign Up For Credit Monitoring: A great way to alert you of new accounts opening in your name, credit inquiries, and other identity based actions. You can also place a freeze on your credit. With this, no new accounts can be opened using your name. However, it is recommended that you always check your credit reports as often as you can.
- Use 2FA: Two-factor authentication provides an additional authentication step when signing into an account. With this in place, the hacker has difficulty bypassing the login. 2FA helps to ensure you’re verified by using a third-party method like an authentication application, SMS text, or email. before access is granted.aa
Hopefully, you will never encounter address fraud. But if you notice any of the indicators discussed in this post, act swiftly. This may include contacting the USPS office, law enforcement, and your financial institution. If you also have difficulty using your credit card, make complaints as quickly as you can too to prevent further fraudulent activities.