While internet scams are the new rage among scam artists and con men there is still an unbelievable amount of money scammed out from the hands of the innocent every day through postal mail scams. That’s why we’re going to share with you seven of the most common mail scams around. Make sure to share them with your loved ones, friends, and coworkers.
1. Fake checks and money orders, usually accompanied by a letter asking the victim to bank the money and wire a portion on to a third party. We know this postal fraud well — the advance fee scam or Nigerian scam.
2. Cross-border fraud. This covers both postal and telemarketing scams, usually promoting dubious investments, phony travel deals and any number of bogus products, from pharmaceuticals to “adult” services.
This is such a big and growing crime that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a dedicated website with information and advice.
Global law enforcement agencies have also established an international site dealing with cross-border fraud.
3. Lottery scams. Yes, these bogus announcements that claim you’ve won a fortune on a lottery you didn’t even enter arrive almost as frequently by snail mail as they do in your online inbox.
Lottery scams remain one of the most widespread frauds and, as with their online equivalent, postal scam versions often target older folk.
4. Work from home scams. Although many of these scams originate online, most of them actually involve the postal service.
They include receiving and mailing out checks and goods obtained illegally, ordering supposed training materials for phony jobs, applying for jobs to stuff and mail envelopes, for which victims have to pay an upfront fee for “supplies,” and even getting involved in chain letters and other postal pyramid schemes.
It’s not unknown for thieves to totally remove blue mail collection boxes from street locations.
The crooks want checks, credit cards and account statements they can use for identity theft.
In a single year, US Postal Inspectors arrested over 6,000 mail theft suspects.
You can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this postal scam by never mailing cash, always emptying your mailbox promptly, sounding the alert if an expected check doesn’t arrive, never leaving outgoing mail in your box overnight, and holding your mail when you’re going away.
You can hold mail easily online now, or by phone.
6. Change of address scam. This type of postal fraud comes in two varieties, both of which are used for identity theft:
* In the first instance, a crook changes your address so that all your mail gets diverted to them. They can steal whatever information they need before the victim notices something is wrong.
* More commonly, the scammer has already stolen the victim’s identity and arranges for credit card bills taken out in the victim’s name to go to another address.
The USPS now conducts security checks when notified of an address change, but, if you’re used to getting mail every day, contact them after a couple of empty days.
Monitoring your credit report is the most likely way you’d discover if someone has stolen your identity and is using another address.
7. Failing to safely discard confidential mail and card offers. If you just throw these items into the trash, you’re inviting trouble.
Criminals do hunt through people’s garbage for information they could use for identity theft and will use your “You’ve been pre-approved” credit card invitations to open accounts in your name and then divert the bills to another address, as mentioned in Scam Number 6 above. Buy a shredder and always thoroughly destroy these documents.