COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Imagine paying more than $90 for something that should cost less than $2. That’s exactly what some websites are trying to do to people who are moving.
When changing addresses, setting up mail forwarding through the U.S. Postal Service is a quick and inexpensive process; enter your old address, new address, and credit card information. Mail forwarding costs $1.10 online or is free if arranged in person at any post office.
However, schemers have found a way to charge upwards of $80 or $90 for mail forwarding services, by paying to appear atop Google searches for mail forwarding.
“Scammers are really good at making great-looking fake websites,” said Judy Dollison, President of central Ohio’s Better Business Bureau. “When someone goes to make a change to their address, they are misled into thinking they are making this change through the U.S. Post Office.”
NBC4 Investigates visited one of those third-party websites. It used a blue and white color scheme, similar to USPS. Unlike USPS, a one-time charge of $99.95 was hidden in a paragraph of fine print, as was a disclosure that the website is not affiliated with USPS.
The street address for the business behind the website is in Utah and linked to more than one business name. The businesses claim to offer similar mail forwarding services and have “F” ratings on the BBB’s website.
Dollison said the easiest way to avoid mail forwarding schemes is to not use search engines like Google and simply type “usps.com” into your browser. She also said a good rule-of-thumb is to use a credit card for any online payment, instead of a debit card. That way, the charge can be disputed.