USPS education campaign shows how to avoid scams, fraud, identity theft

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identity theft protectionDuring the 12th annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 7-13 the U.S. Postal Service is pushing a coordinated consumer education campaign that highlights the importance of protecting privacy and steering clear of fraud and scams. This year’s theme – Dollars & Sense: Rated “A” for All Ages – encourages individuals to exercise good consumer sense at every stage of life – from grade school to retirement.

“It’s never too early or too late to become a more informed consumer,” said Delores J. Killette, U.S. Postal Service vice president and Consumer Advocate. “This year, NCPW’s goal is to educate consumers of all ages on how they can prevent becoming a victim of fraud and scams.”

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, USPS is calling attention to free resources to help people protect personal privacy and avoid identity theft and other fraud schemes. The Postal Inspection Service offers the following tips for consumers to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

  1. Know the warning signs of fraud: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for offers that apply pressure to act “right away,” guarantee success, promise unusually high returns, require an upfront investment, don’t have the look of a real business or just don’t feel right.
  2. Know the facts to stay safe from phishing: Banks will never e-mail or call for account numbers. There are no legitimate jobs that involve re-shipping items or financial instruments from home. Foreign lotteries are illegal in the U.S. If in doubt, check the company out with the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Play it safe online and off: Never click on a link inside an e-mail to visit a web site; instead, type the address in a web browser. Retain receipts, statements and packing slips, and review them for accuracy. Place outgoing mail in the secure blue collection boxes, or deposit it in collection slots on the inside of a local Post Office. Shred confidential documents instead of simply discarding them in the trash.
  4. Get involved and protect friends and family: Point out “too good to be true” offers to kids and teach them to be skeptical. Take an active interest in the financial activities of aging parents, especially if they’re facing an illness that could make them more vulnerable. Share information about scams with friends and family.

“We’re out to stop fraud – and you can help,” said William R. Gilligan, Jr., Chief Postal Inspector. “Many fraudulent offers can be identified and prevented before they cause any damage. Together we can help protect our families and ourselves from these crimes.”

This week across the country, participating Post Offices will host events to raise awareness of the most common fraudulent activities and what consumers can do to protect themselves. By shining a spotlight on issues and ideas that help individuals become better consumers of products, materials and services, the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service hope to improve their knowledge of how to combat fraud.

Consumers can also visit for free fraud education and prevention videos about identity theft, work-at-home scams, internet fraud, foreign lotteries, investment scams and more. Viewers can follow the Chief Postal Inspector and Postal Service Consumer Advocate as they walk through the top ten scams to watch for. The website also offers tips on recognizing scams and instructions on reporting scammers to the appropriate authorities.

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