How to spot postal fraud

Postal fraud, scam mail, mass market fraud. They’re all terms for fraud that comes through your letterbox.

They often promise guaranteed prizes, lottery wins and ‘get rich quick’ schemes, but here’s the trap: you’ll be asked to pay a fee, call a premium-rate phone number or hand over personal information such as your bank details or date of birth before you get anything. Having done so, the prize never turns up.

Alternatively, a fraudster might be advertising goods or services with a big discount or free gift – often with a time limited offer. If you do buy something, the products may be poor quality or not arrive at all.

Postal fraud checklist: what to look for

Postal fraud relies on you being so attracted to the offer that you don’t stop to check if they’re a legitimate business. Some signs that should make you suspicious include:

  • a letter saying you’ve won a lottery or competition that you haven’t entered
  • a request to pay an upfront fee (perhaps disguised as a handling fee or delivery charge) before you can receive a prize, product or service
  • ‘irresistible’ offers – especially if they’re using language designed to hurry or panic you
  • unfamiliar branding – do you know this company?
  • not using your name – do they really know who you are?
  • bad spelling and grammar
  • poor quality logos, design and photography

What to do if you suspect fraud

If you’ve seen something that doesn’t feel right, STOP!

  • don’t respond to the letter or call any phone numbers listed on the letter
  • do some research into the company writing to you – look for reviews on trusted websites or ask family and friends
  • report it to Royal Mail

What to do if you’ve already responded

Don’t panic! What you do next depends on whether you’ve shared information or made a payment. Take a look at our advice on what to do if you’ve been a victim of fraud.

Reporting fraud

If you’ve been a victim of postal fraud, find out how and why to report it.