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How to Recognize a Mail Scam

The U.S. Postal Service continues to be one of the most effective vehicles for scammers to perpetrate crimes. These strategies, compiled from the National Association of Triads and the Home Instead Senior CareĀ® network, can help seniors protect themselves:

Anatomy of a Scam Checklist: Senior Mail

  Consider a second set of eyes to look over bill payments and mail.
  Don’t send any personal information – Social Security number, bank and
credit card account numbers, phone numbers or address – through the mail
to anyone who you don’t know, no matter what they’ve offered or promised.
  Never respond to a sweepstakes letter by sending a check to claim a prize.
  Only send checks to charities with which you are familiar and that have
been cleared through the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general.
  Don’t respond to requests to send a “deposit” to “get started” with
a work-at-home offer or a pyramid scheme.
  Buy and install a locking mailbox, or set up a P.O. box.
  Don’t leave bill payment envelopes in your unsecured mailbox
for pickup – take them to a postal mailbox.
  Know the billing cycles, and act on any missing mail.
  Know when bank and credit card statements, and pension payments
are supposed to arrive each month. Consider getting statements online.
  Follow up if bills or new cards do not arrive on time.
  Carefully review monthly accounts for unauthorized charges.
  If you order merchandise from a catalog and it doesn’t arrive or
isn’t what you order, contact the company.
  If merchandise that a senior didn’t order arrives COD (cash on delivery),
do not open it, but send it back.
  If you’re getting unnecessary mail, contact the sender and ask to have
your name removed from the mailing list. To cut down on the volume of
unwanted bulk mail, get off as many national mailing lists as possible.
Register at the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at
  If you continue to get mail that is obviously a scam, take it to your
local post office and the mail will be forwarded to the U.S. postal inspector.

Contact local law enforcement if you think someone has scammed your senior or might be trying to do so. For more about protecting your seniors from scammers, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care® office, or visit

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