Did you know the Post Office sells your information?


I wish I had known this long ago. I would never have put in forwarding requests. It’s mean, it’s ignorant, and from a moral standpoint it’s downright reprehensible – but it’s legal, and they do it gleefully to get gain.

After our recent move to the wilds of Utah to the east coast, I put in three forwarding requests – one for our personal mail, and two for businesses. Little did I know that this would cause me no end of trouble, as that information was instantly transmitted to marketing agencies and basically anyone who has two coppers to rub together, and immediately began receiving junk mail and having my new information appear on automatically scraped websites.

Here’s the Forbes article I found – a bit dated, but still valid – that opened my eyes to this dirty little secret.

Whenever you fill out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service, the USPS adds your new details into a database of 160 million previous address changes over the past four years. The USPS has deals with data brokers to sell this data to anyone who pays, provided they have your old address. That means data firms cannot buy the address of Leroy Jones in Cincinnati, but can obtain his new address if they know where he used to live, which they usually do anyway.

This is, in a word, filthy. The PO’s responsibility is to get my mail from here to there, and that’s where their responsibility ends. To take people’s personal info and sell it to data brokers is nothing short of criminal, and it shouldn’t be permitted.

So this time, when we move from our temporary apartment to the home that we will – it is to be hoped – shortly be purchasing, I will not be relying on the PO to forward my mail. In plenty of time, I hope to inform our critical correspondents of our new address individually, and let the junk mail  get returned to sender.

There is supposedly a loophole, although I don’t know if I trust the Post Office as far as I could throw a grand piano:

There is, however, a loophole that keeps data brokers from accessing your updated address. When you fill out the online form to change an address, you can indicate a temporary change that provides six months of forwarding that can then be extended for another six months.  That information, unlike the changes marked as permanent, is not included in the master list sold to data brokers.

Time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

7 responses to “Did you know the Post Office sells your information?

  1. In Germany, this is nowadys also done by the state. You know, we are required by law to notify the state [the city administration usually] of any change of address (within 2 weeks of moving) and they have the gall to sell my new address then. And it’s legal. I cannot even ask them not to – as I can with any business.

  2. Odd, I moved last fall and have not had this problem. Maybe I’m not of interest. My car is the most valuable thing I own and I don’t even have a credit card. Am I flying under the radar?

  3. If you don’t want the USPS selling your information for filthy gain, make sure you vote to throw the filthy Republicans out of congress who refuse to fund the post office and who place draconian requirements on it that requires the post office to fund its retirement program with huge sums paid decades in advance. This is a blatant effort by Republican turds to drive the post office out of business so private businesses can take it over. BTW, the filthy post office also updates your new address with the place I work: the IRS. Sometimes.

  4. I had this misfortune of having my mailing address maliciously changed by an unknown individual.
    I had to spend multiple hours on many days straightening out this nightmare. This all took place because the postal service sold a fraudulent change of address to brokers, thanks postal service.

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