Common types of mail scams
Scam mail is different to legitimate mail sent by companies that are advertising lawful services or the sale of genuine goods. There are many different types of scam mail, such as fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes, bogus health cures, investment scams and pyramid selling. Some of the most common are described below.
Clairvoyant and religious scams
Psychics and clairvoyants may send a letter claiming to have seen something in your future and asking for money to tell you what it is.
Sometimes they coordinate with lottery and prize scams to give the impression that they are ‘predicting’ a piece of ‘good luck’.
In other cases, a letter from someone claiming to be psychic or a person from a religious order gives the impression they are concerned about your good health, wealth and happiness. They threaten harm or bad luck unless you send them money.
Hard luck stories
In these cases, the fraudster may claim to have lost all of their money in unfortunate circumstances or that they need to pay for an operation, and will ask you for money.
These stories are fake. Don’t respond.
Lotteries and prize draws
You may receive a letter congratulating you on winning a cash prize.
But you won’t receive any prize, and you may be asked to call a premium rate number or to pay fees to 'release' your prize.
A genuine lottery will never ask you to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
Parcel delivery scams
A postcard is put through your letterbox by a fake delivery company claiming it has a parcel for you and you need to call a telephone number to arrange delivery.
If you call the number, you’re then asked to pay a sum of money by credit card and told the (non-existent) package will be delivered the same day.
Protecting yourself from postal scams
- Put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your door
- Avoid being added to mailing lists which scammers sometimes get hold of
- Get your name taken off direct mailing lists in the UK by contacting the Mailing Preference Service
Preventing and reporting scams
You can find advice on how to protect yourself and others from becoming a victim of a scam as well as information on how to report a fraud at the links below.