WINFIELD, W.Va. -- An error in the addressing and mapping project in Putnam County could affect some residents' credit scores, officials said Tuesday.
"I did talk to representatives from the credit agencies, and a change of address does have a minor effect on your credit score," Commissioner Andy Skidmore said.
Many residents in Putnam County have been notified that their addresses are changing as part of a decade-long addressing and mapping project aimed at improving emergency services in the county.
The project seeks to standardize addresses so that each address is unique and related to the physical location of a structure. It also gives each structure a single address for emergency services, utilities and deliveries, where in rural areas houses might have had as many as three different addresses.
But not all addresses in the county are changing. Some have been grandfathered in if they are unique and sequential within a neighborhood.
It appears that some of those that were to be grandfathered in were changed without the office of emergency management's approval. "I know my address was changed and now it's going back," Commission President Steve Andes said. "So I'm in the same boat."
The error came when the post office made official proposed address changes before the office of emergency management could edit them.
"The addresses were in there . . . they were not to be released," Andes said. "The post office didn't have anybody in that position, and when they finally put someone in that position they started releasing the information before it was edited."
The office of emergency management has been systematically phasing in address changes and sending out letters to residents whose addresses are actually changing.
These residents have suddenly received mail with a new address but have not received a letter because their addresses weren't supposed to change.
"That information got released prior to (OEM's) knowledge," Andes said. "And yeah, it's caused some consternation out there."
The postal service sells address lists to direct mailers as well as utility and credit card companies, most of whom buy it on a monthly basis.
"The post office sold this list," Commissioner Joe Haynes said. "Well, people started getting their bills and their bulk mailings with this new address on it. And they never got any notification from us or the post office or anyone else.
"Then they get a notification from the post office saying, 'never mind, your address didn't change.' It's just been mass confusion."
Haynes said he's been affected by the problem, and he recently had trouble stopping his mail for a vacation through the U.S. Postal Service website. He said his address changed back and forth on the site as he worked through the prompts.
Aside from the confusion to the residents and possible credit score affects, mail delivery shouldn't be disrupted.
"We've been told both addresses are to be delivered for 12 months while this transition happens," Skidmore.