Recently, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the federal agency division that investigates postal mail fraud, sent to consumers an informative flyer about the warning signs of fraud and scams. I received the flyer last week. Perhaps, you received a flyer too.
The ability to spot a scam can help you avoid becoming a victim of indentity theft and identity fraud. The 8 warning signs of a scam:
1. Sounds too good to be true.
2. Presssures you to act "right away"
3. Guarantees success.
4. Promises unusually high returns.
5. Requires an upfront investment -- even for a "free" prize.
6. Buyers want to overpay for an item and have you send them the difference.
7. Doesn't have the look of a real business.
8. Something just doesn't feel right.
If you received a fraudulent offer via email, the USPS advises you not to click on any links in the message. If you do buy something from an offer, keep any and all receipts, statements, and package delivery slips. Don't wire any money to a person you don't know. If somebody you know asks you via a social networking site to wire money to them, verify their inquiry first with them via phone. It only takes a couple minutes and can save you a lot of money and grief.
Know that foreign lotteries are illegal in the USA, so you can't win no matter what they claim. It doesn't matter how the fraud or bogus offer started: website, telephone, email, or in person. If it used the U.S. postal mails, consumers should report the fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and to:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Criminal Investigations Service Center
Attention: Mail Fraud
222 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6100