Mail Fraud

Mail fraud involves use of the postal system to steal money and valuables from victims.  It is most often committed through solicitation letters, phony sweepstakes, bogus catalogues, or work-at-home offers.  Thieves can commit mail fraud by simply stealing mail - such as bank statements, credit card offers or cheques - out of your mailbox.

The most common types of mail fraud include:

Consumer Frauds
Beware of contests which require you to put up money to win, even if there is a "guarantee" that you will be a winner.

Home Improvement Offers
Beware of tempting home improvement offers made through the mail or on-the-spot. These offers are a popular type of swindle.

Chain-referral Scheme
These schemes offer a commission for buying one item and selling additional ones to friends.The products are usually over-priced and difficult to sell.

Retirement Estates
Any retirement estates offered at conspicuously low prices to "lucky" individuals are usually fraudulent and should be avoided.

Business Opportunities
Business opportunities and work-at-home schemes which promise high profits after a substantial investment or registration fee are often fraudulent.

Medical Frauds
Fake laboratory tests, miracle cures, and mail order clinics, etc. are other ways schemed to defraud you. Legitimate doctors and hospitals do not advertise through the mail.

The TIPS that follow are designed to limit your exposure to mail ID theft and other forms of ID theft that come from paper documentation:

•Buy and install a locking mailbox.
•Don't leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox for pickup - take them to a postal mailbox.
•Know when your bank and credit card statements, or pension payments are supposed to arrive each month.
•Know your billing cycles, and watch for any missing mail.
•Follow up if bills or new cards do not arrive on time.
•Carefully review all of your monthly accounts for unauthorized charges.
•Never respond to a sweepstakes letter by sending in a cheque to claim your prize.
•Only send cheques to charities with which you are familiar. 
•If you are asked to send a "deposit" to "get started" with a work-at-home offer or a pyramid scheme, don't respond. 
•If you order merchandise from a catalogue and it doesn't arrive or isn't what you ordered, call the merchant immediately.
•If merchandise you didn't order arrives COD (Cash On Delivery), just send it back.

You should also consider:

1. Cutting down on junk mail.
2. Shredding the mail you do receive that contains your personal information.
3. Getting a P.O. Box.
5. Never leave mail in your car or laying around outside of your house.
6. Go paperless where possible and track incoming bills and tax documents.
7. Get free credit reports and check them consistently.

Monitor your Credit Reports and Credit Score:

Credit information is gathered by credit reporting agencies, sometimes called credit bureaus. There are two major credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax Canada Inc., and TransUnion of Canada. Governed by provincial and federal laws, credit reporting agencies store and maintain credit information about individual Canadian consumers for use by members of the credit reporting agency. Members include banks, finance companies, auto leasing companies, credit card companies, and retailers.  In Canada, you have the right to obtain a copy of your Consumer Disclosure / credit report, free of charge by mail or in person from these credit bureaus.



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