Crime Prevention and Consumer Education

There are criminals out there who take things out of your mailbox and there are others who put things in your mailbox. Postal Inspectors investigate these crimes and arrest the criminals. But they can’t arrest everybody. So an important part of the Postal Inspection Service’s crime fighting repertoire is crime prevention and consumer awareness. They’ve found that educating people about scams and other crimes is the best way to prevent them from becoming a victim.

Fraud schemes continue to be a major concern, targeting the elderly and the young, the rich and the poor. Fraudsters have no regard for the age or socio-economic status of their victims. Technological innovation has extended the reach of these criminals who know no boundaries and makes law enforcement and prosecution efforts more difficult. Identity theft claims thousands of American victims each year, while businesses and consumers suffer millions of dollars in losses and untold amounts of frustration and misery recovering from these scams.

In response, the Postal Inspection Service has developed a unique approach to consumer crime prevention: the Consumer Alert News Network (CANN). Now in its fourth year, this original news series exposes fraud, identity theft and cyber scams. Developed in partnership with Litton News Source, CANN helps educate consumers on prevention measures to avoid crimes including bogus job offers, sweepstakes swindles, foreign lottery fraud and charity scams. Each news segment is presented by the inspectors who investigated the crime and the consumers who were victimized. Since its launch in September 2012, more than 500 episodes have been produced and distributed to 120 television stations across the nation — representing a potential 3.8 million viewers per segment. Fraud-related public service announcements are also aired in conjunction with the news segments. The goal is simple: help consumers preserve their health, welfare and financial well-being.

Building off the success of CANN, Litton Entertainment, with the support and technical advice of the Postal Inspection Service, created “The Inspectors,” a half hour scripted drama airing on Saturday mornings on the CBS network. The longer format programming enables a more in-depth delivery of consumer awareness and crime prevention messages on a weekly basis to the estimated 1 million weekly viewers in the target audience. The show also reaches American service members and their families overseas through the American Forces Network, an audience of an additional million viewers. In its first season, the fraud-awareness focused series garnered an Emmy award and more than 50 million viewers.