U.S. Postal Inspection Service Guide to Preventing Mail Fraud

What Is Mail Fraud?

It’s a scheme to get money or something of value from you by offering a product, service, or investment opportunity that does not live up to its claims. Prosecutors must prove the claims were intentionally misrepresented and that the mail was used to carry out the scheme.

Although most mail-order companies are honest and stand behind their products and services, unfortunately there are a few rotten apples who give direct mail advertisers a bad name. They cheat people by peddling worthless products, medical quackery, and get-rich-quick schemes. Some fly-by-nights take your money and send you nothing.

Unscrupulous businesses don’t mind taking advantage of an unwary customer. “Let the buyer beware” is their motto — and you might be the buyer.

Mail fraudsters frequently rely on the same old tricks. You may even be familiar with some of them. The following pages include some of the more common mail fraud schemes and related consumer problems. Watch out for them!