Mail Fraud

Any fraud that uses the U.S. Mail®—whether it originates in the mail, by phone, or online—is mail fraud. Read on for more information about crimes you should watch out for.

Types of Mail Fraud

  • Fraud Against Older Americans

    Every year, mail fraud schemes are directed at consumers of all ages. While anyone under the right circumstances can fall for a phony offer or promotion, some groups, like retirees, are more impacted than others when they unknowingly participate in scams.

    Woman reading receipt
  • Fraud Against Veterans

    78% of retired military men and women have been targeted by scams. Veterans implicitly trust fellow members of the military and commonly deal with PTSD, making them more vulnerable to imposters making fraudulent claims related to benefits, employment, and special discounts.

    Operation Protect Veterans
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Fraud

    You could find yourself out of luck if you don’t know the difference between a legitimate win and a sweepstakes scam. If there is pressure to act and you must send money to collect your prize, you haven’t won anything.

    Envelope containing scam letter
  • Employment Fraud

    Employment fraud is an attempt to deceive people who are seeking employment by giving them false hope. Common employment scams, such as pyramid schemes, check-cashing schemes, and phony job offers, typically request personal information, bank details, or buy-in to secure the job.

    Employees sitting down for a lecture
  • Telemarketing Fraud

    Telemarketing fraud often begins with postcards or letters in the mail describing an appealing offer and a prompt to call a 900 number or a toll-free 800 number. When you call, the telemarketer often has a convincing sales pitch and uses high-pressure tactics to trick the recipient into handing over personal information.

    Woman with a phone to her ear
  • Financial Fraud

    Financial fraud is deception that uses financial transactions for personal gain. Any offer that requires a payment first—for a new credit card without a credit check, an advance on a loan, or an amazing deal on a product or service—is probably a scam.

    Woman shopping online using a laptop
  • Other Types of Mail Fraud

    Other mail fraud includes brochures offering services for unusually low prices, phony inheritance notifications, and notices asking for payment for free services (such as putting your name on the Do-Not-Call Registry). These schemes use mail in some form to persuade people and request money.

    Woman shopping online using a laptop

Protect Yourself

Follow and share these tips to protect yourself and others against mail fraud.

  • Don't share financial information

    Don’t give your financial information—Social Security number, credit card, or bank account numbers—to anyone you don’t know and don’t trust.

  • Don't be pressured

    Get all information in writing before you agree to enter a contest, make a purchase, or give a donation. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision.

  • Do your due dilligence

    Check out the company online or with a consumer advocacy group such as the Better Business Bureau® , State Attorney General’s Office,  or FTC.

  • Consult with a friend

    Discuss any promotion, offer or fundraising appeal with a trusted friend, or relative before making a commitment or sending payment.

  • Block telemarketing calls

    Reduce unwanted telemarketing calls. Take advantage of call blocking services, some of which are free, or purchase a call-blocking device.

  • Read the fine print

    Read everything given or mailed to you—including the “fine print” before taking action.

441 mail fraud convictions in fiscal year 2018.

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Report a crime

Are you a victim or have you witnessed a mail-related crime? Alert Postal Inspectors to the problem and prevent others from being victimized.

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