This is National Consumer Protection Week--a campaign to inform and encourage consumers to take advantage of their rights.
Target 2 is highlighting one of the biggest scams around--foreign lottery mailings. Federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of the mailings, but it continues to cost victims millions of their hard earned money.
The victims, who never entered their names in a lottery, receive mail containing fake checks or a letter saying they had hit the jackpot.
To collect their winnings, they were told they had to pay a fee, tax or other expense. In each case, it was a scam.
"We're taking inspectors, and some cases teams of inspectors, to ports of entry to keep the mail from entering the mail stream," said Pamela Durkee, U.S. Postal Inspector.
Despite this effort, the solicitations that get through cost victims $120 million in losses in just a year.
"Look at the post mark. If it is from a foreign country I would be suspect," Durkee said. "Foreign postage is a huge red flag."
Con artists also use the phone. Telemarketers "guarantee" you have won valuable prizes like vacations, cars or cash.
But again, they ask for a bogus fee up front. Sadly, they also prey on the elderly.
"These fraud operators will call them and befriend them and tell them what they want to hear and make them feel like they made a new friend," Durkee said.
Anything suspicious you get in the mail, turn it into your post office.
Investigators stress it's important to file complaint. It's how the ball gets rolling to enforce the law against dishonest people.
If you have any questions, concerns or information, check out the following consumer protection links:
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