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Bob Robertson wasn’t accepting abundant mail and he had no abstraction why. Turns out, an character bandit had forwarded it to Florida.

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It wasn’t adamantine — the cheat aloof abounding out a anatomy on the Postal Service’s website.

“This aloof seems like it’s too easy,” said Robertson, of North Whitehall Township.

The Postal Account tries to anticipate its abode change arrangement from actuality acclimated for fraud, or at atomic tip bodies off to it appealing quickly. But that didn’t happen. Robertson had to acquaint them it was happening.

He absent abandoned a little bit of money — about $100 in rebates he was cat-and-mouse for — but absent a lot of his time. He’s still addition out what mail he absent and had to align to pay bills he didn’t get. He additionally had to set up added aegis on his accounts, back those bills apparently concluded up in the scammer’s hands.

The agitation absolutely started in August, admitting he abandoned accomplished that in retrospect. That month, there were apprehensive accuse on one of his acclaim cards. In October, addition coffer alleged allurement whether he had aloof activated for a card. He arrested his acclaim belletrist and begin there were three bootless attempts to accessible cards on Sept. 16 — the aforementioned day the counterfeit abode change was submitted online.

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The bandit acceptable did that to awning their tracks, so Robertson would not get mail from any accounts opened in his name.

“I would aloof accede myself lucky,” Robertson said. “It’s been a behemothic aggravation but fortunately, financially, so far it hasn’t absolutely affectionate of embodied in any cogent way.”

PAUL MUSCHICK / THE MORNING CALL

An character bandit submitted a counterfeit change of abode anatomy to the Postal Account in Bob Robertson’s name, redirecting his mail to Miami as allotment of a broader arrangement that included applying for acclaim cards in his name.

An character bandit submitted a counterfeit change of abode anatomy to the Postal Account in Bob Robertson’s name, redirecting his mail to Miami as allotment of a broader arrangement that included applying for acclaim cards in his name. (PAUL MUSCHICK / THE MORNING CALL)

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Address change requests can be submitted online, in actuality or by mail. There were 37 actor aftermost year. Postal Account backer Karen Mazurkiewicz told me the “margin of abeyant accommodation is small.” She said the Postal Account “attempts to antithesis chump accessibility with aegis of the mail and is consistently evaluating the processes actuality used.”

What happened to Robertson has happened to others. I begin media belletrist from Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Florida and California about agnate instances. Some people’s identities were baseborn back advice on redirected mail was acclimated to accessible accounts.

The Postal Account has accepted for a continued time about the abeyant for the abode change arrangement to be acclimated for fraud. A 2008 ambassador accepted analysis said the account “should advance controls to ensure able allotment and validation” of change requests. It said declining to abode weaknesses “could accord to character theft.”

The analysis said annihilation was done to verify the character of bodies authoritative “hard copy” requests in actuality or via mail. It additionally begin that some forms weren’t signed, or had names and signatures that did not match. The Postal Account agreed to analysis for signatures in the future.

It tries to validate abode changes. For online requests, a $1 fee allegation be paid with a acclaim or debit card. The name and abode on the agenda allegation bout the name and one of the addresses on the change form. That arrangement anesthetized a analysis during the 2008 analysis by abnegation orders submitted application acclaim cards with altered names and addresses.

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Verification belletrist are beatific for all requests, to the old address. Anyone accepting a letter who hadn’t afflicted their abode would be alerted of abeyant fraud.

Those safeguards, though, didn’t assure Robertson. He told me he did not get a notice.

“I cannot say that he did accept one, but he should have,” Mazurkiewicz said. “It is actual attenuate that he did not.”

To baffle the acclaim agenda verification, the character bandit would accept had to allegation the fee to one of Robertson’s cards, or to a agenda opened fraudulently in his name after his knowledge. Neither appears to accept occurred.

It took awhile for Robertson to apprehend he was missing mail. He doubtable article was awry but didn’t apperceive absolutely what was activity on.

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Some days, he and his wife accustomed nothing. What they didn’t admit was the abandoned mail actuality delivered was addressed to his wife, or to both him and his wife. Annihilation beatific in his name abandoned was arriving.

He begin out what was accident in a chat with his mail carrier on Oct. 19.

As she alone off the mail that day, she told him she hadn’t brought a amalgamation because it was actuality forwarded to his Florida address.

“I accept no abstraction what you’re talking about,” Robertson told her.

“All your mail’s activity to Florida,” the carrier responded.

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She a him of the change of address, so he went to the column appointment and got the change form. It showed his mail was actuality redirected to Miami until Nov. 30. The column appointment anon chock-full that.

It allegation do added to stop this arrangement from actuality acclimated for fraud. Everyone who files a appeal should be appropriate to accommodate photo identification. Some bodies may acquisition that abhorrent or inconvenient. And yes, the best character thieves ability use affected IDs. But it would be a alpha against abbreviating the process.

If you apprehension your mail aggregate decreasing, don’t avoid it. Look for patterns such as mail abandoned advancing to one actuality in your household. If you get a apprehension acknowledging your abode has been changed, acquaintance your column office. Don’t accept any mail you get from the Postal Account is junk.

You additionally can assure yourself by attached the bulk of acute information, such as coffer and acclaim agenda statements, delivered by mail. You can admission abounding statements online.

The Watchdog is appear Thursdays and Sundays. Acquaintance me at [email protected], 610-841-2364 or The Morning Call, 101 N. Sixth St., Allentown, PA, 18101. I’m on Twitter @mcwatchdog and Facebook at Morning Call Watchdog.

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