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It is highly likely that, at some point in your life, you will have run into some form of fraud or scam; be it an AAP scam attempt (Authorised Push Payment), an instance of credit card fraud, or another example. In fact, studies from UK Finance have shown that, in the year 2019, criminals successfully stole over £1.2 billion through scams and frauds. Unfortunately, the world of mail is no exception, and there are myriad mail and postal fraud schemes out there designed by criminals to trick people out of their money. In this blog, we will discuss some of the basic definitions of postal fraud, what mail fraud can look like and how we at UK Postbox can help you deal with it.
What is Postal Fraud?
Postal fraud can be loosely defined as any letter, mail or post that is sent with the sole intention of obtaining money through deceptive means. Postal scams like this will almost always involve an offer that sounds attractive on paper, but does not actually exist. These postal fraud scams will always come with a catch; perhaps you might have to pay a fee upfront to receive the promised good (this is what is known as advance-fee fraud), or maybe you'll need to send over personal or bank details to proceed to the next stage. Some common examples of postal fraud include the following:
- Unclaimed Inheritance Schemes: These are any scams that inform you that a person has left you money in their will. These scams will often refer to real, existing law firms and may even have genuine-looking email addresses, and websites.
- Fake Lotteries and Prize Draws: These types of scams involve sending you a letter that congratulates you on winning a cash prize, despite not entering any kind of draw or lottery. Of course, you will not receive a prize, and will often be told to call a premium rate number or pay additional fees in order to get your winnings.
- Advance Fee Fraud: As previously alluded to, this type of postal scam covers anything that tells you to pay a form of down-payment or initial fee to receive a prize. Even after paying the fee, the scammers may ask for further payments before "releasing your prize".
- Hard Luck Stories: Hard luck stories are instances of fraud that involve the scammer claiming to need money after having lost all of their money in an unfortunate accident, or needing funds for something like an operation. These hard-luck stories are designed to prey on the victim's empathy and get them to send funds over for no legitimate reason.
Mail Fraud vs Spam Emails
An important note to remember is that there is a clear distinction between mail fraud and scam mail, and marketing emails legitimately sent out by companies. While the latter can often be just as irritating as scam mail, they are an example of the lawful selling of genuine goods or services; sent out by legitimate businesses. Mail fraud is not legitimate, and is an entirely fraudulent attempt to steal money from victims through unlawful means.
What to look out for with Postal Fraud
Fortunately, with postal fraud, several key characteristics are shared by many of these scams that make them easier to identify. If you can spot many of these characteristics when examining the mail, then it is highly likely to be a scam of some kind:
- Poor Spelling and Grammar: Any official document or letter purporting to be from a legitimate organisation would never contain any kind of spelling or grammatical errors. So if you can spot multiple mistakes like these in the mail you have been sent, it is very unlikely to be genuine and can be written off as an example of postal fraud.
- Processing Fees: Any example of a company asking directly for a processing or handling fee should be approached with caution. Handling fees like these for potential prize giveaways are illegitimate, and no genuine company or organisation would ever ask for something like this.
- Any Request for Funds: Any form of initial communication that brings up the idea of you paying funds, for any reason, should be treated as highly suspect until they can prove otherwise.
- Unsolicited Requests: If the mail you have received is from an unknown organisation or source, that you have never even heard of, then you should be on your guard. If this initial contact then requests personal information, such as your bank details, this is a major red flag for postal fraud. These kinds of requests are things you should only ever expect from organisations you have heard of or have previously communicated with yourself in the form of a signup.
How UK Postbox can help with Postal Fraud
As an organisation designed entirely around the sphere of physical mail, we at UK Postbox have had years of experience dealing with all kinds of mail fraud. Countering postal fraud is very important to us, and anyone using our service can be expected to go through stringent identity verification procedures to ensure they’re not known for fraudulent activities. The two identity verification procedures we employ are our basic and enhanced processes.
Basic Identity Verification:
Our basic identity verification process is quick and easy for those using our platform. All we need for you to do is upload a piece of photographic identification, alongside an image of yourself. The same process will need to be followed by anyone that is also sharing your account.
Enhanced Identity Verification:
The critical difference between this and our basic identity verification process is that we need to verify your address information too. We will first automatically run your personal details through an identity verification product, called URU. URU checks the name, address and date of birth details entered during registration against multiple data sources; to confirm all the information is valid. This will leave a soft footprint on your Credit File, ensuring that an ID check has been run, that will not affect anything like your credit report or your ability to borrow money.
Using UK Postbox to counter Postal Fraud
As well as our stringent anti-fraud measures, our service can also be used by our customers to counter attempts at postal fraud. This is a particularly effective measure for helping those that are more vulnerable to postal fraud, such as younger people or the elderly.
To use UK Postbox as a measure against mail fraud, you must first set up an account for a vulnerable person or yourself and choose a virtual street address or PO Box. In the former instance, you might be a carer or concerned family member looking after someone's accounts. Once this has been done, you will be able to monitor the account holders inbound mail, and check for authenticity using our online mail management platform.
This platform can be used to scan the contents of all inbound mail, allowing you to determine the authenticity of all letters quickly and efficiently online. From here, you can then choose to forward on all genuine mail to the account holder's address and stop any fraudulent letters from arriving and causing distress. This is a fantastic solution to fraudulent mail as it allows you to stay protected from scam mail online, with an easy and intuitive-to-use mail management platform that gives you full control over all inbound mail.
Fraudulent post and scam mail is an unfortunate tactic used by many criminals to this day and claims thousands of victims every year. With this article, we hope to have outlined some of the key characteristics of postal fraud to look out for and how we at UK Postbox can help you manage and deal with fraudulent mail online. You can visit our services overview page here for more information on the services we offer, and for details on cost, you can visit our pricing page here.