Why Change of Address Is Important

A wooden box with the words'change of address'on it.

As anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s important to update your address. You need your mail to come to the correct address, you want your bills to come to the correct place, and you may be legally required to update certain government entities. However, what you may not know is that updating your address is also important for your financial life.

Customer Identification Program (CIP)

Today, banks must verify the identity of individuals wishing to conduct financial transactions with them. This is a provision of the USA Patriot Act, known as the Customer Identification Program (CIP). A bank cannot open an account or give you a credit card until they verify your identity. They do that, in part, via address verification-both current and past addresses. Thus, if you have moved, it is important to update your address so that it does not interfere with your ability to open and maintain bank accounts or credit cards.

Updating Driver’s License

Similarly, every state requires drivers to update their address with the government within a reasonable period (usually between 30 and 90 days) after moving. Not only is this required by law, but it also gives both government agencies and creditors notice of your current address. Again, this can be important for purposes of the CIP, as your driver’s license information may be used to verify your identity. If the address on your secured credit card application, as an example, varies from the address of your driver’s license and/or your credit report, a creditor may not be able to identify you or approve you for a credit card.

Avoiding Identity Theft

Identity thieves notoriously love people who do not update their address with their creditors in a timely manner. This allows them to open accounts in your name, intercept your personal details, and accept deliveries of products bought on your credit. As a result, after a move you should obtain a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus (at www.annualcreditreport.com) to ensure your address has been updated and no new accounts have been opened without your knowledge.

Safety Net in Case You Forget

Fortunately, even if you are fairly lax about updating your information, reporting a change of address may not be necessary. Changing your address at the post office is usually enough to notify most of your creditors, and they will automatically provide the updated information to credit bureaus when they update your account. One of the benefits of a secured credit card, unlike a prepaid card, is that it reports to the 3 major credit bureaus… so your change of address will be updated.

Update Your Address Today

If you have recently moved, be sure to update your address today. It can keep you from violating the law, protect you from identity thieves, and ensure that you get all of the critical correspondence you need. It can also make is easier to obtain credit and open a bank account. But, never fear, even if you forget to do it, most of the time it will be handled for you by your creditors. Still, for the best results, be timely and proactive about updating your information so you can stay on top of your credit and your finances.

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