CHICAGO, IL â€“ May 26, 2011 â€“ The month of May starts the busiest time of the year for changing residences. As people look to the Internet to update their street addresses, rather than visit a local post office, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers of an online scam involving websites claiming to change your address and charging a hefty fee to do so.
The scam begins with a consumer searching the internet for a change of address form and being directed to websites, such as www.change-address-online.com. This website is in no way affiliated with the US Postal Service, and should be avoided, according to the BBB. The website asks consumers to fill in the requested addresses, and then credit card information. After providing the credit card information, consumers find their address has not been updated, yet they are charged between 20 and 40 dollars.
â€œMoving can be an overwhelming and expensive process, and people often find themselves short on time and unwilling to make a trip to their local post office to change their addressâ€ said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Avoid being scammed by changing your mailing address directly though the U.S. post office, which can be done for free by going to your local post office, requesting a form from your carrier, or by filling out the application for $1 on the U.S. Postal Serviceâ€™s official website, at www.usps.com.”
Chicago area residents have fallen victim to this scam. For example, Gary Dunn from Aurora, Ill., states, â€œI found this site when I wanted to change my address. Everything on the site looked like it was the official post office site. I was surprised at the $30 charge but stamps and everything had gone up in price so I thought they were charging now. I kept e-mailing them when nothing happened. I think that they finally got tired of my e-mails every day so they wrote back and said that they were not the post office but the agreement said that they would forward my info to the post office. I ended up going to the post office myself and having them change my address at no charge.â€
Ana Salas from Chicago, Ill., had a similar experience, stating â€œI went online to change my address and I was in a hurry. I clicked on the first place that said â€œclick here to change addressâ€ and filled out the form. Then it asked me for $30. As soon as I submitted my credit card number I knew something was wrong and that I should not have been charged that much. The very bottom of their site says in small print that they are not part of the post office. I e-mailed and they said they could cancel my account but could not refund my money. I told them that if they could not perform a service then they should give me my money. I have not gotten anything back.â€