Attorney General Andy Beshear and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) are working to help Kentuckians avoid mail scams that could be hiding in their mailbox.
The Stamp Out Mail Scams awareness campaign, which was unveiled Thursday at Lexington’s Nandino Post Office, provides posters on how to identify, avoid and report common mail scams in 700 post offices across the state.
Beshear said the awareness campaign will help Kentuckians combat the Federal Trade Commission’s findings that fraud losses in 2017 reached nearly $905 million across the nation.
“The Office of the Attorney General and USPIS are united in our fight to stop con artists who misuse the postal system to defraud Kentuckians,” Beshear said. “Thanks to Stamp Out Mail Scams Kentucky families can learn how to avoid mail scams at the same time they are buying stamps or mailing Christmas packages at their local post office.”
Kathy Woliung, U.S. postal inspector, said the United States Postal Inspection Service investigates any fraud where the U.S. mail is used to perpetuate a scheme.
“These scams often target older adults and military veterans and prey on an individual’s financial and emotional vulnerabilities and loneliness,” Woliung said. “The end goal of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is protecting consumers and seeking justice for those who commit crimes against them.”
In fiscal year 2017, U.S. postal inspectors removed more than a million illegal lottery solicitation letters. Inspection service screeners also discovered and barred solicitations containing counterfeit checks with a face value of approximately $62 billion.
Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection and Mediation and the USPIS work together on a regular basis to help victims of mail scams. When Beshear’s office receives a complaint from a Kentuckian who has been scammed, key information like the type of scam and any address used as part of the scam are forwarded to the USPIS for review and investigation.
The offices also partner on Kentucky’s Elder Justice Task Force, which is coordinated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky and the United States Department of Justice Civil Division. The taskforce brings together federal, state and local agencies to combat neglect, abuse and financial exploitation of seniors occurring in Kentucky.
Beshear said Stamp Out Mail Scams is an extension of his office’s Scam Alerts program, which USPIS has supported since the launch in 2016.
Scam Alerts is either a text message or email alert that is sent from Beshear’s office when new and trending scams are reported in the state. Kentuckians may sign up to receive alerts by texting the words KYOAG SCAM to GOV311 (468-311) or enroll online at ag.ky.gov.
Last week the office warned Kentuckians of a trending grandparent scam that resulted in three seniors losing nearly $18,000.
More than 160 community partners are part of Beshear’s Scam Alerts initiative. Partners like AARP Kentucky and the Better Business Bureau have helped the office discuss scam prevention tips with nearly 18,000 Kentuckians at 221 community meetings throughout the state.
Kim Sweazy, director of operations, Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky, attended Thursday’s announcement to remind Kentuckians to call the organization to seek help in determining if a mail solicitation is a scam.
“BBB is able to help people recognize the signs of a possible scam in mailings they have received that sound too good to be true,” Sweazy said. “We do this by advising them to look for red flags like requests for payment to get a sweepstakes prize or loan; offers for easy work-at-home jobs; promises to erase bad credit; and the list goes on. BBB is also able to use scam reports from consumers to help warn the public of fraudulent offers.”
Beshear said his administration has also worked to return more than $1.7 million to Kentucky families who fell victim to fraud and business disputes. The office is currently averaging more than $2,500 a day back in the pockets of Kentucky families.