What are postal scams?

You might think all of your post comes from trusted sources. The techniques scammers are using are becoming more sophisticated. This makes it very difficult to spot the difference between scam mail, junk mail and offers from legitimate companies. We’ve put together some tips and advice for spotting postal scams and how to handle them.

Common postal scams

Below are some common postal scams everyone should know and what to do if you spot them:

Lotteries and prize draws

You may receive a letter congratulating you on winning a cash prize. You won’t receive any prize and they may ask you to call a premium rate phone number or pay money to “release” your prize. Don’t respond to the letters, even if they look genuine. A lottery will never ask you to pay to collect your winnings.

Psychics and clairvoyants

You may receive letters claiming a psychic or clairvoyant has seen something in your future. They’ll ask for money to tell you what they’ve “seen”. Sometimes these people co-ordinate with lottery and prize scams and say they’re “predicting good luck”. Don’t respond, it may look like you’ve been specially chosen but they send these letters to millions and it’s a scam.

Pyramid schemes

These are usually chain letters or investment schemes that offer profits for little or no risk. You might be asked to get other people to join or told to send money to the person who has contacted you to receive your return on investment. Don’t join – if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Pyramid schemes involve overpriced products that aren’t worth the money. You might receive threats intended to scare you into responding, ignore these too.

Hard luck stories

With these stories the scammer may claim to have lost all their money in sad circumstances or need to pay for an operation. They will ask you for money. These stories aren’t real. Don’t respond, not even to say no. This can encourage the scammer to keep contacting you.

Unclaimed inheritance

You might receive a letter addressed to you. This will say someone has left you money in their will. These letters can refer to real law firms and can seem to have genuine addresses, emails and websites. Always check with Solicitors Regulation Authority – they’ll be able to tell you if the letter is genuine. They also regularly post updates on their website of scams they are aware of. 

Advance fee fraud

You may receive a request to help transfer money to another country in return for payment. The letter will appear to be from a lawyer or government official. Do not reply to the letter and never send your bank details or personal details. These kinds of letters are usually poorly written. If you see spelling mistakes or bad grammar, it’s a good indication it’s a scam.

Bogus job offers

These involve an offer to work from home if you send a registration fee. You might also be offered an interview over the phone. Legitimate employment agencies won’t charge you a registration fee.