Address verification, also called proof of address, is a critical indicator in many identification processes. Proof of address is necessary for security-laden environments, like when signing up for a bank account or applying for government programs. The process ensures that only those living in a qualified area receive corresponding services; for example, those within a specific neighborhood may need to verify their address before accessing a community-based application. Likewise, those looking to borrow from lenders must provide a verifiable address to ensure the borrower can adequately fulfill their debts.
Address verification works in tandem with other identity authorization processes. Verifying an address solidifies information previously submitted to an entity. For example, individuals must verify their address when opening a bank account, ordering a passport, or obtaining a driver's license. The goal in verifying the information is not to collect the data but to reaffirm what the entity already knows. For this reason, proof of address may involve a manual check process but more readily includes mail. Bank statements are often the best choice for proving verification as they are challenging to defraud.
Address verification can come in many varieties, but traditionally, the process is time-consuming. Manual verification processes may last days or weeks before completion, causing many delays and frustration. Even in today's tech-based world, the process hasn't improved much; rather than going in person to submit the documentation, consumers can scan and submit the paperwork online. In some ways, the process is faster, but if the documents aren't properly formatted or are missing information, the same old frustrations can surface.
Every organization has a unique standard for official documentation; depending on the servicer, some statements may qualify for verification while others do not. For this reason, proof of address may include various documents where the individual's name and physical address are listed together.
The postal service maintains a national database of addresses and associated consumer names; subsequently, those needing postal address verification can obtain it from the United States Postal Service (USPS). The verification process can take place in person or online. Updating information is particularly important for those who have recently moved. Notifying USPS following a move is vital in ensuring your mail gets to the correct place. After notifying them, they forward all incoming mail to the new address, barring situational cases like DMV letters and packages.
Ensuring an address is correct within the USPS database is more important than it may at first seem. For example, the postal service has no other way of knowing the change has occurred. Apart from verifying that the address is correct for official mail, third parties may also use the database. Some developers integrate USPS API into their applications, leading to automatic address verifications. If the information in the database is inaccurate or old, this could result in negative consequences.
Entities may send packages and deliverables to the wrong address if an address is invalid. Scammers could use bank statements and credit card offers in fraudulent schemes. Opportunists could leverage birthday cards and private letters in phishing and social engineering plots. Even worse, a driver's license or passport could end up in the wrong hands. No matter how the database understands addresses, if yours is wrong, it could put your personal information at risk.
Despite USPS' vital position in the national postal service, it does not have a perfect system. There are some limitations to the USPS option. It does not work well for verifying many addresses, for example. Another problem consumers have is the USPS' minor role in address verification; often, those needing to prove addresses need more than only the USPS' word. These problems persist despite them controlling and maintaining the national address database.
The USPS system is subject to consumer error. The tool cannot confirm or even detect an address with errors. The only way to verify an address is by submitting error-free information, which could limit the use of the feature altogether. The responsibility for submitting accurate information lies with the consumer, who may or may not have an address. This problem may seem minor, yet various web services offer this feature.
Verifying an address looks different depending on the company's needs and the consumer's ultimate goal. Those looking to verify their address for mailing reasons are likely to use USPS or geolocation methods. At the same time, online markers may complete address verification requirements; IP addresses are an option for some situations, while more isolated homeowners may use other metrics alternatively.
The credit monitor Experian offers address verification options using USPS resources. The USPS system, as integral as it is to the national postal services, is incomplete. It is possible another delivery service, like FedEx, UPS, DHL, or Amazon, has the correct information in an official format.
Address validation may fail for many reasons. The most prominent reason is aforementioned, a delivery service may not know the address exists or who owns it. Additionally, verification can fail following systemic problems or errors within the database and corresponding software.
Other times, verifications fail because the system has erroneously marked the location as empty, vacant, or unregistered. Those within PO box-dominate areas are also at high risk for a failed address verification test. If an address verification process fails, try another option.
IPs are unique identifiable addresses associated with a device. An IP allows devices to interact while providing information about each other. Location data is a common element of the information provided in an IP address; it is so common that cautious internet users use VPNs to secure themselves and their network better. For this reason, although IPs can confirm an address in some situations, the option may not reach guideline requirements.
Credit monitor Experian also offers address verification methods, which utilize USPS resources. Experian's verification tool uses delivery point verification to match the address to the online inquiry. This method of verification cuts down on the latency of an address check. The tool can be integrated into website services, offering the most efficient verification experience for the consumer. Additionally, Experian utilizes a complex AI that assesses submitted addresses and searches for inaccuracies; that means more mail is delivered straight to your mailbox.
FedEx's commercial database serves many homeowners with services and deliveries. To verify an address with them, the individual only needs to create an applicable account. As the new account is registered, the process requires an address verification task. The system sends a code to a cellphone, and entering the code online when required confirms the address. Alternatively, consumers can contact FedEx directly to request a verification of address from customer service.