DENVER — Contact Denver7 obtained new data recently showing reports of change of address fraud are up 1,700% in Colorado over the last five years.
In the fiscal year 2017, Colorado had 122 reports of change of address fraud. In FY 2022, there have been 2,224, an increase of 1,723%.
The United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the USPS watchdog, has been warning about this problem since 2018, issuing a management alert in April recommending increased identity verification controls.
Mary Lloyd, the deputy assistant inspector general for audit, said the OIG alert highlighted serious issues with the online change of address process and how the USPS verifies identities.
"The Postal Service originally disagreed with the recommendation," Lloyd said. "And they did that because they stated they had approved controls in place."
However, Contact Denver7 reported that approved controls did not protect people such as Steve Shelley, a Denver resident who received a notification that someone had changed Shelley's address and was getting his mail in Ohio, and it definitely was not Shelley.
Other journalists across the country have reported similar issues, and the USPS OIG received an influx of complaints.
"What we did find was there were several requests, like on the high end," Lloyd said. "There were about 68 requests that were redirecting mail to one specific address in New York. And that's just one example. I think it's an important issue because even though it looks like a small number, it's still people not receiving their mail. And that mail could be quite important."
Lloyd said the Postal Service has now agreed with the OIG to make recommended changes that improve controls on changing addresses and identity verification by Nov. 30.
Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.