How to hide your address from a stalker or abuser

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Survivors of abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking can enroll in a state-run program to keep their address from the person who has been abusing, stalking or harassing them. #3706EN

Please Note:

*If you do not live in Washington state, check Victims Connect to see if your state has an Address Confidentiality Program.

The Basics

Yes, you should read this if you live in Washington state and you are a survivor of abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, or, in some cases, felony harassment. You may want to keep your address from the person who has been abusing, stalking, or harassing you.

If this is the case, you can enroll in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) run by Washington State. The ACP will give you a safe address for getting mail and legal papers. This can help keep you safe from the person who is targeting you.

*If you enroll in the ACP, you must let the program know about any change of address. If you are planning to move, you must let the ACP know in writing and you must sign your name. Address changes cannot be made by phone or email.

 

You will learn if you can enroll in the ACP, how to enroll, who else you can enroll, how the ACP works, and how long you can be in the ACP.  

 

Yes, if you live in Washington state and all of these are true:

  • You are a survivor of actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking; or you are a criminal justice employee who has been a target of felony harassment.

  • You move to a place unknown to the perpetrator and out of public records.*

* Not required to take part in the ACP, but highly recommended.

Yes. They can be in the ACP with you. Starting July 23, 2023, this is true even if they are not related to you.

The ACP will give you a legal substitute address and a mail-forwarding service. You can use this substitute address on public records. You can also use the substitute address for personal use, just like any new address.

We recommend you use the ACP address for all purposes. This will make it less likely that your home address can be found.

Any mail for you will go to the substitute address, which the ACP operates. The ACP team will then forward your mail to your actual address.

Your ACP address will be a P.O. Box number, followed by a Personal Mailbox number (PMB).

Every ACP participant will get the same P.O. Box number, but an individualized PMB.

You must always provide your PMB. If you do not, your mail will not be deliverable.

*All ACP addresses are "located" in Olympia, WA (Thurston County).

 

Here are a few examples of places where you should use your new PO Box and PMB:

  • Court papers

  • Utility companies

  • School

  • Doctor's office

  • Bank

  • DSHS and/or other social services

 

You cannot sign up on your own. An ACP approved Application Assistant must help you apply. Most application assistants work for the local domestic violence agency.

You can find a list of Application Assistants at Address Confidentiality Program-How to Apply. If your county does not have any Application Assistants, try a county near you.

The ACP can help. It does not by itself guarantee your safety. If used correctly, it can be a valuable part of an overall safety plan. It is not a safety plan all by itself.

You should talk with an advocate about making a comprehensive safety plan. To find one nearest you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

*StrongHearts Native Helpline is a peer support service of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Advocates are available 24/7 by texting or calling 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) or through the online chat at strongheartshelpline.org.

 

Your enrollment will last 4 years. You can renew at the end of the 4-year term.

Almost all. The ACP forwards all first-class mail. This includes all registered and certified mail, all personal mail, bills, cards, letters, and so on. The ACP will also forward bank checks.

The ACP cannot forward packages, magazines, or junk mail.

Potential issues

No. You must let the ACP know your new address in writing with your signature as soon as you can before you move.

Yes. Read ACP participants can use a Revocable Living Trust to buy real property confidentially, available at WashingtonLawHelp.org, to learn more.

Yes, but carefully read the information you get about voter registration information and ACP-specific voting forms when you sign up for the ACP.

You should not register to vote online or at any government office (such as the Department of Licensing, the Department of Social and Health Services, or the Health Benefits Exchange Office).

You can withdraw from the ACP at any time. Your withdrawal must be in writing, signed, and mailed or faxed to the ACP.

Yes. If you show them the authorization card ACP sends you after you enroll, agencies must accept the ACP substitute address as an actual address. They cannot make you give them your actual addresses.

 

*Some private companies and federal agencies like the Social Security Administration may not accept your ACP address. If that happens, you could use a friend's address or the domestic violence shelter's address. (Make sure you get permission first.)

 

Yes. The ACP accepts legal mail.

When the ACP receives service on your behalf, it is treated as if you received service. However, your ACP address cannot be used to accomplish personal service, so original service of process will need to be accomplished another way.

Be aware that being enrolled in ACP can shorten how much time you may have to respond to legal matters. Since documents that the court or an opposing party may send you will first go to your ACP address and then be forwarded to your actual address, this can cause your mail to be delayed.

If you are involved in any kind of court case, check your mail regularly.

Yes, but only if there is a signed court order requiring the release or a written request by a law enforcement agency's chief officer.

If your abuser is in law enforcement, make sure your ACP application says so. In this situation, a signed court order would be required.

No. You must accept all mail forwarded to you by the ACP. Refusing mail can result in termination from the program.

Yes, and you should speak with a domestic violence advocate about your options before enrolling in the ACP.

Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call: (800) 799-7233.

Getting your own P.O. Box

You can get a P.O. Box of your own in a location that won’t easily give away your physical address. Be mindful that P.O. Boxes cost money.

If you want the P.O. Box to be convenient, your abuser may be able to figure out where you live. In smaller towns, this could be a problem.

Using a friend of family member’s address

Be aware that this solution may put your friend or family member at risk if you think your abuser will target them.

Also, your friend or family member could move and not tell you.

You can visit the ACP's website at Address Confidentiality Program. Interpreters provided.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Jan 17, 2024
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