Solving the Case of the Undeliverable Address

As I recently experienced, a valid address is not always an accurate address. Businesses rely on valid addresses to ensure deliverable mail, save costs associated with returned mail, and reduce paper waste. If you doubt its environmental impact, consider this Earth Day fact: Undeliverable mail adds an estimated 300 million pounds of paper waste to landfills every year.

Undeliverable As Addressed Mail

Furthermore, an address validation service for US addresses can not only tell you if an address is valid and deliverable, but also whether the address is a residence or a business, and if the address is currently vacant or returning mail. That additional information could be a clue that a deliverable address is involved in fraud (e.g., when such an address is provided as the billing address by a customer opening a new account).

In the binary world of address validation, undeliverable addresses are cold cases left unsolved. And the amounts of unsolved, undeliverable case files are piling up. According to a study by the United States Postal Service (USPS), 6.9 billion pieces of mail annually are undeliverable-as-addressed.

An address can be rendered undeliverable for multiple reasons, including missing spaces, missing house numbers, and misspelled street names. While CASS-Certified address validation tools perform USPS verification and correction in an attempt to overcome such issues, the standardization process must follow the strict rules about what is an acceptable match. This can mean that an address that could have been fixed with a bit more information and effort will be rejected.

One way to crack this cold case open is to warm up to the idea of using an alternate route to get to a deliverable address. Specifically, by using other contact data points connected to the address to search and cross-reference other databases to generate a line-up of address candidates. By identifying the best candidate, along with an indication of match quality, this approach could locate a deliverable address that would not be found following a strict USPS check.

Thankfully, there is now a new detective working the case of the undeliverable address using exactly such an approach. DOTS Address Detective, is a new tool for salvaging and fixing fatal addresses that do not pass USPS verification and would otherwise be discarded.

Geoffrey Grow, CEO of Service Objects, explained that DOTS Address Detective is a real-time API web service that “…takes address validation to a whole different level, coupling our database of authoritative names and phone numbers along with our industry leading CASS™-Certified address validation to augment address data and make it USPS compliant.”

Service Objects encourages its customers to try this new service for free to test if any of your unsolved address mysteries can be resolved.

Jim Harris OCDQ BlogThis post comes from guest blogger Jim Harris of Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality. Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with over 20 years of enterprise data management experience. Harris is a freelance writer, independent consultant, and Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (, a vendor-neutral blog about data quality and its related disciplines.

New resources, straight to your inbox

Get updates on the latest industry trends, tips, and news.


You may also like: