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Beware of 'fake' change of address websites, Better Business Bureau warns

Indy woman clicked on what she thought was USPS
Elizabeth Berrones thought she was clicking on the US Postal Service, but instead, it was a website that will change your address for $80.
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 21:27:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Summer is a popular time to move and scammers are looking to take advantage of that.

The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert to be careful when you look to change your address online.

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney uncovered a wrong click could mean a hit to your pocketbook.

Like many college students, Elizabeth Berrones has moved a lot and just changed homes recently.

“I just quickly Googled changing my address and just clicked the first link that popped up,” said Berrones. “I just assumed it would be the postal service."

Berrones said the website looked just like the US Postal Service, the site she had used in previous moves to change her address.

“I didn't think about it when they asked for my credit card and I didn't think much of it because the postal service charges you a dollar,” said Berrones.

The United States Postal Service does charge $1.05 to change your address, but the website Berrones used was not USPS.

It was a website that looked like the postal service, that charged nearly $80 to change Berrones’ address.

"I definitely felt foolish,” said Berrones. “I normally check those things. The next day I saw a pending charge for like $80 so I was really concerned what that was."

Berrones filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, which issued a warning this month about websites claiming to handle change-of-address requests.

"This time of year is when people do a lot of moving and change of address, so we see a lot more months," said Tim Maniscalo, president of the BBB Serving Central Indiana. "It really starts in May and goes through until school starts. This is the time of year when we see a lot of people getting caught with this so that’s why we put out the alert at this time."

Oftentimes, when you call the company to find out what happened, they claim, at best, that they can only offer you a partial refund.

In most cases, these fake companies get away with your money and your address is left unchanged, according to Maniscalo.

"Most people can do this online through the postal service website," said Maniscalo. "If you want to go through that service, you can do that but you’re probably paying a lot of money for something you can probably do in 5 minutes online."

While some websites are a total scam, other companies do offer a service—to contact the postal service for you—which the BBB says you do not need.

Here’s how the BBB says you can protect yourself:

  • Don’t start with an internet search
  • Go directly to https://www.usps.com/ or click here to change your address
  • If you see misspellings or grammatical errors, consider it a red flag
  • Always use a credit card, which has more protection than other payment methods
  • Double check the URL before you enter personal and payment information. Before you enter any sensitive information, double check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure. (Secure links start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page.

Elizabeth Berrones was able to contact the website “Address Change Services” and get her money back.

WRTV Investigates reached out to the website to ask about their location and about customer concerns, and we are still waiting to hear back from them.

"I think I scared them when I reached out to them and I was like this is a mistake can I please get refunded,” said Berrones. "It was definitely a reminder to take it slow and check what websites I'm on in the future."

Customers with complaints or information on similar scams should visit the Postal Inspection Service’s website, www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov, or call 1-877-876-2455 and press 3.

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