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Beware of fake — and costly — Postal Service sites

Paul Mojzes, a part-time Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident, noticed charges he had not authorized on his credit card statement.

Three times, a company called changemyaddress.com had charged him $19.95.

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Mojzes, a Pennsylvania college professor, had recently gone online to what appeared to be the Postal Service’s website to change his address.

But he was actually on the website of changemyaddress, which is designed to make consumers think they are on the Postal Service’s website.

Mojzes contacted the website at the phone number on the bill and asked how the charges had occurred and said that he wanted them removed.

“I got a very evasive answer. They said they would remove two of them, but not the third. I did not authorize any of them,’’ Mojzes said.

He also contacted his credit card company, which canceled the card and issued him a new one.

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Internet complaint boards such as Rip-off Report and Scambook are filled with reports from hundreds of consumers with similar stories.

It seems that using a Google search to locate the legitimate Postal Service website also turns up ‘‘USPS-change-address.com.’’

Googling ‘‘USPS change my address’’ will take you to the website of the company that charges people $19.95. The website states — in light print — that the company is not affiliated with the Postal Service, but many people don’t notice that.

Since the Postal Service charges $1 for change of address orders submitted online and asks for a credit card number, people don’t find it strange that they have to insert a credit card number.

A Miramar, Fla.-based postal inspector, Blad Rojo, said that people need to make sure they are on the Postal Service’s website. The Postal Service does not use private companies to perform any services.

Any transaction having to do with your mail should be done only on the Postal Service’s website.

It is usps.com.

The Postal Service offers a free change-of-address option also, just not online.

Postal customers can mail or submit in person a change-of-address order to any post office. The order can be printed after it is completed online or it can be picked up at any post office.

You can also request a form from your carrier or call 800-275-8777 to request a change.

The Postal Service issued a warning about the scam in 2010. Postal inspectors found that there are several websites with domain names that appear to be associated with the Postal Service, but they are not.

The scam is ongoing, and in March the Better Business Bureau in Cincinnati and Dayton in Ohio joined forces to investigate and issued a warning about the website.

Numerous consumers had complained to the BBB about being deceived and not being able to get their money back after contacting the company.

The BBB determined that the company that operates the service is Form Giant LLC.

Some consumers who paid discovered that the company did not update their addresses, thus resulting in the loss of several weeks’ worth of mail.

A consumer from Jackson, Tenn., told the Better Business Bureau that she felt deceived by the business, stating:

‘‘This Web site appears to be the USPS Web site that will change your address for you. It’s not. It is a scam. I have two charges of $19.95 on my debit card and have called and e-mailed multiple times demanding my money back. It is an absolute disgrace and I can’t get answers or any help.’’

Another consumer, from Depew, N.Y., said that he never received the service he paid for.

‘‘They never even filed the forms to change my address. Today is March 11, 2013 and the post office has no information on my change of address and I have lost four weeks worth of mail!’’

The consumer said that when he tried to get a refund from the business, the company representative hung up on him.

If you have information on this or similar scams, report it online at the Postal Inspection Service’s ‘‘file a complaint page’’ https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/filecomplaint.aspx.

Or call 877-876-2455.

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