Many tasks need to be completed when you move. One of the easiest and most essential chores is changing your mailing address. The smartest way to do this is to go to your local post office in person, or by visiting the official United States Postal Service website. But because we are creatures of habit living in a technology-driven age, people often turn to their favorite search engine for all their needs.
Herb Weisbaum, the ConsumerMan, contributed a report to CNBC warning consumers of potential pitfalls in relying upon “change my address” Google searches. Results list the official USPS website, along with a slew of privately run businesses. These private companies offer to complete the change of address process for you, but at a cost anywhere from $17 to $24 to cover fees (postage, handling, mailing, etc.) There have been hundreds of complaints regarding these private services, in part because of the hidden fees that are charged.
The Better Business Bureau of Cincinnati has dealt with one company in particular located in its region. Change-My-Address.com is the first result listed if you were to search “change my address” “forward my mail” or “USPS change of address.” Change-My-Address has no affiliation with USPS, but it’s easy to think otherwise because of the company’s misleading tagline, “USPS® Change of Address Form. Fast & Secure Mail Forwarding.” Based upon the company’s advertising, many people pay for the service assuming it is an official USPS site. The BBB received 150 complaints about this company in the past year. According to Leslie Kish, vice president of operations at the Cincinnati BBB, “That’s a lot of complaints for one company. There is a pattern of complaints about customer service and refund issues. Some people said they paid the money and did not receive the change of address service.” As a result of these complaints, Change-My-Address has an F rating with the BBB.
Rather than chance the reliability and cost of private address change companies, it makes sense to deal directly with the USPS. You can easily fill out the form online for only $1, or in person for free. And while it’s perfectly legal for a private businesses to charge for the service, if you go that route make sure you investigate hidden fees!
NOTE: Thanks to Cincinnati BBB for their help with this story.