MESA, Ariz. -- Tony Palmer and his wife know the importance of checking their mail every day.
When they moved recently, they also realized the importance of changing their mailing address with the The U.S. Postal Service.
Palmer thought doing that would be easy on the Internet.
"It's the kind of thing that just about everything in your life is involved with that computer," Palmer explained to 3 On Your Side.
So, Palmer went online and put in "how to change your mailing address" in a search engine.
That's when he came across a link that Palmer thought was affiliated with the U.S. Postal Service. It was called Address Change Assistant.
"So, I click on it thinking it's a speed link into the address change page," Palmer said.
Palmer filled in all the necessary spaces and realized it was going to cost $29.95 to change his information and it was going to cost an additional $29.95 to change his wife's information since she frequently uses her maiden name.
So, he punched in his credit card number and paid $60.00 total. Palmer said he knew it sounded high but dismissed the charge thinking to himself that every thing is expensive these days.
"In this day and age, things cost money these days," Palmer said. "Even with the postal service prices are going up."
But after paying $60.00 Palmer looked at that website later and realized he paid for a service that he could have done for free himself.
He could have filled out a form at any U.S. Post Office location and changed his address at no charge.
Even if he chose to use the Postal Service's official website, he only would have been charged a dollar which sure beats what he paid.
Looking back at that website Palmer used, there are several disclaimers warning consumers that it
"is a private business entity." It goes on to indicate that it "is not affiliated with the United States Postal Service" and "only acts as an agent for users wishing to file their address change request."
In other words, they're providing a service to consumers like Palmer and charged him $60 for that service.
Palmer now realizes he could have saved that money and just did it himself.
In the meantime, he warns other consumers to always be careful when surfing the net. "Do your research." Palmer warns. "Make sure before you click that button."
3 On Your Side needs to reiterate that the website does provide a service for a charge and in this case, that service is changing you mailing address at your request.
But again, consumers can do it for free by walking into any post office and filling out the appropriate form.
The U.S. Postal Service tells 3 On Your Side that finding the forms is getting more difficult these days because they are beginning to eliminate the change of address forms.
Postal authorities say doing so will help decrease identity theft by preventing scammers from trying to intercept your mail.
Consumers should know that the U.S. Postal Service now encourages consumers to go online and change their address on their official website.
Using the Internet will cost you $1.00.
However, postal authorities remind consumers that by making them punch in their credit card information and paying a nominal fee, that helps confirm the consumer's identity which they say assists in cutting down on identity theft.