BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A North Buffalo man is trying to regain control of his identity. A scammer stole his personal information by manipulating the U.S. Postal Service.
He’s warning others to be vigilant and calling on the USPS to change its procedures.
When Evan Cominsky got a letter in the mail from the USPS, he didn’t think anything of it.
It said the USPS received a change of address order and all mail would be forwarded to “the person named below”, and his name was listed.
“It didn’t have any new forwarding address, it just said my mail was going to continue, it looked like continue coming here,” said Cominsky.
But then their mail stopped. The Cominsky’s went to the post office.
“We found out someone had been intercepting our mail for the last two months,” said Melissa Cominsky, his wife.
A scammer had filled out the change of address form to have all of the mail sent across Buffalo to Fox St.
Using information found in the mail, at least two credit cards had been opened in Cominsky’s name and thousands of dollars in charges racked up.
“Someone stole my identity and is walking around telling people they’re me,” said Evan Cominsky.
They filed two police reports with Buffalo Police and reported the fraud to the Postal Service. Both agencies are investigating.
“It’s really scary knowing other people have that information and that they can get our mail and important documents that easily from us, without having to prove they’re us,” said Melissa Cominsky.
Karen Mazurkiewicz, a regional spokesperson with USPS, told News 4 anyone can mail-in a change of address form, without showing an ID.
She said if it’s filled out online, a credit card is required and used to verify identification.
“The margin of potential compromise is small,” said Mazurkiewicz in an e-mail. “There is a validation process involved when the change order is requested. The USPS sends out notifications to both the original address and the new address advising of the change.”
The Cominsky’s said, however, that letter wasn’t clear and identification should be required to change an address.
“If people aren’t aware of what’s happening, this can go on for years and years without their knowledge,” said Evan Cominsky. “It can lead to very bad things.”
He signed up with two credit monitoring bureaus to protect his information going forward.
Cominsky warns other Buffalo residents to thoroughly read all mail from USPS and follow up with face-to-face conversations.
The Postal Service sent News 4 a list of ways to prevent mail theft and fraud:
– Report any disruption in mail delivery lasting more than one day
– Consider a credit freeze to prevent thieves from opening new credit cards and loan accounts
– Contact banks and creditors to report potential breaches
– Have banks and creditors contact you if there’s unusual activity on your account
– Report mail theft at www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov and file a local police report