It’s a pleasure for me to be with you today.
Since 1998, the country has dedicated 1 full week as National Consumer Protection Week (it’s in March this year). It is a time when government agencies, consumer protection groups, and industry associations join together across the country to put a spotlight on how consumers can protect their interests and avoid fraud.
The Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are pleased to be members of the National Steering Committee helping to lead the effort this year.
For over 200 years, postal inspectors have been fighting fraud, protecting the mail, and working on behalf of the American people to promote the honesty and integrity of the American marketplace.
And in 1971, the office of the Consumer Advocate was established within the Postal Service to ensure that the interest of the American consumer would be a guiding light in the development and delivery of mail service to the nation.
Today, all of us in the Postal Service take the opportunity of National Consumer Protection Week to thank all our customers for their business — it is a pleasure to serve you.
And as Consumer Protection Week implies, we take this time to remind everyone that consumer fraud exists and that there are simple principles that consumers can employ to protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud.
This year we’re concentrating on a problem that many, many Americans have seen firsthand the past couple of years. Thousands of us are approached online or via the mail to make business or personal arrangements with someone sight unseen, and that someone wants to consummate the arrangement with a check. But for one reason or another, all or part of the check needs to be wired back. We want you to learn about fake check scams. Knowing about these various scams could keep you from losing thousands of dollars.
The sooner you educate yourself and your loved ones about these scams, the better!
Here to tell us more about these schemes is _________________.
It’s a pleasure to be here today. I thank all of you for coming out.
The United States Postal Service is part of the fabric of America. We trace our roots to 1775 and Ben Franklin.
Throughout the history of our nation, the Postal Service has been a partner in the progress of the American people. And as our country has grown and been transformed over the years, so has the Postal Service.
Today, we carry 46 percent of the world’s mail at some of the lowest prices in the world. We have 37,000 Post Offices in cities and towns, large and small. And every day, 6 days a week, postal carriers visit just about every home and business in the land to deliver the daily mail. Over 211 billion pieces of mail last year.
And today, we are transforming our business to make it quick, easy, and convenient for customers to do business with us — over the Internet, over the phone, or over the counter in the Post Office.
However, the one thing that has never changed is our focus on service to our nation, to our communities, and to each and every customer.
It is because of this historic relationship that we have the honor to lead in a nationwide effort of great importance.
National Consumer Protection Week 2008 lasts only 7 days. However, we hope and believe that the basic message we deliver today can last a lifetime.
The Postal Service has been given the unique mission to bind the nation together through the correspondence, communications, and commerce that are delivered through the mail.
With the support of friends and family, common sense, consumer education, and the resources of the local community behind them, all Americans can protect themselves from fraud and benefit from the genuine opportunities that America has to offer.
This year we focus our attention on scams that you would never fall for in person — that’s why most of them occur online. Someone wants to give you a huge prize, or pay for something you advertised for sale or for rent. Perhaps you’re looking for a job opportunity, and a business operating overseas wants you to be their payments processor. Or someone has struck up a conversation with you from across the globe and they need cash to come to America to be with you. All of these scenarios ultimately lead to you getting one or more checks to cash for them, provided you quickly wire some or all of that check back out of the United States. Knowing about these various scams could save you thousands of dollars. Though fake check scams are a crime, the real crime is for you not to know what to look out for.
The sooner you invest in your education about these schemes, the better.
Joining us now to share information about protecting yourself against these schemes is _____________________.
This option includes introductions of other speakers
Thank you for joining us.
It’s a pleasure to be with you as the nation celebrates National Consumer Protection Week. Our theme this year is “Don’t Fall for a Fake Check Scam.”
We have a great message to deliver today, some important information to share, and some very special guests.
We are very lucky to have with us:
(The highest ranking official always speaks first or last. In the case of elected officials, especially congressional members, they usually prefer to speak last.)
Also, we have a very interesting video on how fake check scams happen — which you can watch today — and information on other types of fraud. So make sure you have that information before you leave.
Our first speaker is …
Introductions can be as short as name and title, or they can provide a brief bit of biographical data or other information. For example, if we had three speakers, the intros might go like this:
Postal person: Our first speaker is Mayor (name), who has served (town name) for over 2 decades, including as head of the school board, as member of the city council, and since 1999, as mayor. Under his/her leadership, (town name) was recently recognized as one of America’s most livable cities. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mayor (name).
Postal person: Thank you, Mayor (name). Next, we have a special guest who works day in and day out to protect consumers. (Name) is a life-long resident of (town name) and he/she is the associate director of regional consumer issues for the National Consumers League. Please join me in welcoming (name).
(Associate director speaks)
Postal person: Thank you (first name). Our final speaker today is a colleague of mine and a member of one the oldest and most respected law enforcement groups in the nation. A (x)-year veteran of the Postal Inspection Service, Inspector (name) has some tips and stories from the front lines in the fight against fraud. Ladies and gentlemen, (name).
Although con artists can be very clever, and their con games can be very convincing, consumers are not — or at least, should not — be defenseless.
First, and foremost, we all need to use common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If something doesn’t feel right, we probably should investigate more.
For example, why would anyone pay money to receive a free prize? Or how is it possible that someone could really believe an e-mail that says you’ve just won a foreign lottery?
And we must always be on guard for any request for personal information — whether it is a Social Security number, a PIN, or checking account information. You wouldn’t give a stranger the keys to your home — why give them the keys to your personal life?
But people do it.
So remember: if it smells fishy, you are probably the one on the wrong side of the pole. Don’t bite.
Take advantage of the free information that is available. Read the brochures we have here today. Go online to FakeChecks.org. The information is there.
In this speech, name the six scenarios, but choose one scenario to highlight in your remarks. The other scenarios could be used as support in an interview.
Every year, thousands of consumers are victimized by fraud. The newest fraud scams are being cast across the globe by overseas scam artists. If you take their bait and put a check into your bank account, then wire that money out before the check clears, you will be on the hook to your bank for that money. My goal today is to tell you about some of the leading types of fake check schemes. I want you and your family to be able to identify the scam before you fall victim to it.
Our message is “Don’t Fall for a Fake Check Scam.” If you follow our tips, and leave your money where it is, you’ll recognize when something sounds too good to be true, and really is just that.
The Fake Check facts are very telling.
Though there are various fake check scams, a common theme exists in all of them: Just because a deposited check shows up as “funds available” in your account register, it doesn’t mean the check is good or has cleared. Federal law gives consumers the right to have quick access to the funds from deposited checks (usually within 1 to 5 days). However, it can take weeks for counterfeits to be discovered.
Remember, you will be responsible for ALL fees associated with the fake check.
The main thing to remember when it comes to fake check scams is this — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
Fake check scams generally fall into one of the following scenarios: foreign business offers, sudden riches, work-at-home schemes, love losses, overpayments, and rental schemes.
Here’s how the scenario would play out:
You receive an e-mail from a supposed foreign official, or businessman, with a proposal. The fraudster desires to move large sums of money from a foreign country and needs assistance. He/she offers you a portion of the proceeds if you help. If you say yes, you’ll receive checks for large sums of money in the mail. You deposit the checks into your bank account and the funds are posted to the account and shown as “available.”
Meanwhile, the fraudster wishes to send more money to you but quickly needs a portion of it returned in order to supposedly bribe an official, pay transfer fees, etc.
You believe the previously deposited checks were genuine because the funds show as “available” in your bank account, so you honor the request and wire a portion of the funds back to the fraudster.
Then the original deposited checks are returned as counterfeit and the victim is responsible for the loss and associated fees.
There really is only one simple thing to remember about foreign business offers — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
You may one day receive a letter stating you have the right to receive a substantial sum of money. For example, the letter may state that you’ve won a foreign lottery or are the beneficiary of someone’s estate (i.e., a long-lost relative). The letter will inform you that you must pay a processing/transfer tax or fee before receiving the money. However, a check or money order is enclosed to cover the required fee(s). The letter will ask you to deposit the check or money order into your bank account and wire the fee(s) to a third party, usually in a foreign country. This check or money order is eventually recognized as counterfeit and the victim is responsible for the loss and associated fees.
There really is only one simple thing to remember about “sudden riches” — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
Here you are hoping and praying for a more flexible job. At a weak moment, you answer an online advertisement or post your résumé on an Internet job search Web site. Bingo, you are awarded a job, “Payment Processing Clerk,” “Accounts Receivable Clerk.” You’re later informed that the new employer is an international company located overseas. The company claims it costs too much to process U.S. checks in its own country and your new job will be to receive payments (checks), deposit them into your bank account, and wire approximately 90 percent of the money to them.
You’re told this will save the company time and money (processing fees). You’re later instructed to keep 5–10 percent of the check value as your work-at-home salary.
So you happily deposit the checks and wire the money to the fictional employer when the funds are shown as available and posted to your account. It is done, of course, before the deposited checks actually clear. This check or money order is eventually recognized as counterfeit and the victim is responsible for the loss and associated fees.
There really is only one simple thing to remember about “work-at-home” schemes — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
Here’s a good one.
A scam artist poses as a single looking for a relationship through an online dating service. As the online relationship progresses, the potential victim in the Internet relationship is informed funds are needed to pay for travel expenses for the person (scam artist) to travel to the United States so that the two can “begin their life together.”
The victim soon receives checks or money orders. The victim is instructed to deposit the check or money order into his/her bank account and transfer a portion of the funds, via a wire service, to cover the expenses of the new partner. The funds are posted to the victim’s account and he/she wires the money to the new partner. This check or money order is eventually recognized as counterfeit and the victim is responsible for the loss and associated fees.
This is a tough one because emotions are involved, but don’t be fooled. Once you see this deal headed down the path of deposit, transfer, wire back money — stop it — in the name of love!
There really is only one simple thing to remember about “love losses” — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
Even when you’re minding your own business trying to spring clean, a fraudster lurks.
Here’s the scenario:
A fraudster offers overpayments on items you advertised in the classified or online auctions. They send or give you a check or money order for more than the purchase price and ask you to send the extra to someone who will take care of shipping. But there’s no reason why they can’t send that person the money directly.
In another scenario, scam artists say that a check or money order payment will come from someone who owes them money and tell the victim to deduct his share and send them the rest. Maybe they’re in a foreign country and because of currency differences it’s difficult to make payment directly. But it’s easy to transfer money electronically from anywhere — there’s no reason to have someone else send payment.
Fraudsters sometimes claim they sent the wrong amount “by mistake” and ask victims to return the excess. Legitimate buyers will be happy to send the exact amount you’re owed — nothing extra.
There really is only one simple thing to remember about “overpayments” — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
Finding a good roommate or someone reliable to rent your vacation property is hard enough without getting tangled up in a fake check scam. Learn the warning signs:
There really is only one simple thing to remember about “rental schemes” — no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money.
The bottom line is we can learn to recognize specific fake check schemes and avoid them.
We also need to learn the basic warning signs of fraud and to exercise common sense and judgment.
Finally, we recommend that you take the offense by taking action.
Thank you (last speaker).
As you have seen and heard today, fraud comes in many forms and every one of us can be a target — young and old, rich or poor. But we never have to face the problem alone. Our families and our friends are potent allies who can bring considerable experience and perspective to the fight against fraud.
And as we have made clear today, there are top-notch people in the Postal Inspection Service and in state, local, and federal agencies who are out there fighting fraud and bringing these criminals to justice.
The first and best line of defense is you, the educated consumer. Learn to recognize fraud. Understand the resources that are out there to help you. And watch out for family members, especially those who might be vulnerable for one reason or another. Together, we can stop fraud cold.
And that’s what National Consumer Protection Week is all about.
So, let’s do all that we can to put the scammers out of business. The only true way to stop fake check scams is through increased public awareness, education, vigilance, and aggressive law enforcement.
Do your part and make the most important investment you’ll ever be glad that you made.
Educate yourself, use your judgment, and whatever you do, don’t be an easy target.
Though fake check scams are a crime, the real crime is for you not to know what to look out for.
The sooner you invest in your education about these schemes, the better!
The power to beat this fast-growing fraud rests in your hands.
And at your fingertips. Just type in www.FakeChecks.org on your laptop or home computer for more detailed information, get the phone number to report fraud, and find ways to build your financial literacy.
Thanks for coming. Please remember to pick up the resource materials before leaving today.
Thank you (last speaker)
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our program. I want to thank each of our speakers for joining us today and for sharing valuable information and insights on how each of us can fight fake check schemes.
I invite you to stay a while and talk informally with our guest speakers. In addition, don’t forget to check out the literature we have. And remember that more information is available online at http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/.
Information also is available at www.FakeChecks.org including phone numbers to report fraud and materials you can share with your friends and family.