Every day, can artists and scammers attempt to victimize millions of American consumers. And when they succeed, these crimes can seriously affect the lives of their victims, their families, and ultimately each and everyone of us.
You can help stop these criminals.
Many fraudulent offers can be identified and prevented before they can cause any damage. While mail is rarely used for fraud, we consider one incident one too many.
This article is intended to provide basic fraud prevention tips as well as guidance on how to report swindles when you spot them. With your help, we can identify trends that will enhance our law enforcement efforts.
Warning Signs of Fraud
- Sounds too good to be true.
- Pressures you to act “right away.”
- Guarantees success.
- Promises unusually high returns.
- Requires an upfront investment-even for a “free” prize.
- Buyers want to overpay you for an item and have you send them the difference.
- Doesn’t have the look of a real business.
- Something just doesn’t feel right.
Play It Safe
- Never click on a link inside an e-mail to visit a Web site. Type the address into your browser instead.
- It’s easy for a business to look legitimate online. If you have any doubts, verify the company with the Better Business Bureau.
- Only 2% of reported identity theft occurs through the mail. Report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
- Retain your receipts, statements, and packing slips. Review them for accuracy.
- Shred confidential documents instead of simply discarding them in the trash.
- Your bank will never e-mail or call you for your account number.
- Don’t wire money to people you don’t know.
- Be cautious of work-at-home job offers.
- Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau.
- There are no legitimate jobs that involve reshipping items or financial instruments from your home.
- Foreign lotteries are illegal in the U.S. You can’t win no matter what they say.
- Check your monthly bank statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus once a year from annualcreditreport.com.
- It’s never too early to become an informed consumer. Point out “too good to be true” offers to your kids, and teach them to be skeptical.
- Take an active interest in the financial activities of your aging parents.
- Share information about scams with friends and family. Use social networking to help keep them safe.
If you’ve received a suspected fraud through the U.S. Mail, or if the mail was used in the furtherance of a crime that began on the Internet, telephone, or in person, report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Criminal Investigations Service Center
ATTN: Mail Fraud
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250
Chicago, IL 60606-6100
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, works to prevent fraud and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid it. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more.
Federal Trade Commission
Download original brochure (PDF format)