LIBERTY, Mo. – The U.S. Postal Service announced the Joint Project Safe Delivery initiative Friday which include measures which could have possibly prevented a Clay County case of mail theft and fraud last month.

You’ve probably heard of thieves stealing mail out of mailboxes. Now those thieves figured out a way to steal your mail without ever having to leave their homes by fraudulently changing mailing addresses of residents online on the U.S. Postal Service’s website.

A Kearney area resident contacted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office late last month worried someone could be stealing his mail, after it hadn’t been delivered for six weeks.

“As they investigated a little bit further they realized the mail was being forwarded to a address down in Florida,” Clay County Sgt. Chris Johnson said.

USPS processed more than 33 million change of address requests last year. It says the majority of frauds are driven by an identity theft motive. That’s exactly what happened in Clay County.

“During that time they contacted us and were checking into it they noticed their husband had a credit card opened in his name,” Johnson said.

USPS’s website points out you can change your address in a few simple steps online. It’s something scammers figured out they could do as well.

So starting this month the Postal Service implemented dual factor authentication Identity Verification Services for all online change of address requests. That means a scammer would now also have to have access to your email or phone to complete the request.

Effective May 31, customers seeking a change of address will now receive a validation letter at their old address and receive an activation letter at their new address. As an additional safeguard, the Postal Service will no longer accept third-party change of address submissions.

The sheriff’s office is encouraging people to sign up for Informed Delivery. It’s free and allows you to digitally preview your incoming mail and manage your arriving packages. If that mail doesn’t arrive, you’ll know know something is wrong and can contact law enforcement. It also advises residents to shred their mail and check for mail regularly.