Safe From Scams: Scare Tactics

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- What arrives in your mailbox is sometimes not what it really appears to be.

"It's sort of a scare tactic to make you think that you need to do that to stay in compliance," said Kaye Hughes, fraud victim

No mincing words. Hughes is talking about mailing used to lure people into paying unnecessary fees. Hughes is head of an alumni association required to file papers with the state for tax purposes. "This company would be glad to file my reports for me, write the reports, and submit them for me-- for a fee."

Normally the process costs $15, but in one letter said the fee would be $150. "I've done this for 8 to 10 years and I thought-- this is the first time I've ever heard of any kind of a $150 fee for something that was required," Hughes said.

She was afraid there had been some sort of change in the laws and something new was required.

Kay noticed a few things that looked suspicious: like the misspelling of a street -- "Leestown" should be one word, also the return address was a UPS box. So she called postal inspectors. "It's somewhat a form of trickery," said Lisa Verhusen, U.S. Postal Inspector

Inspectors say they see mailings like this every year around this time of year.

"As long as they provide this service it is not fraud. But you don't have to go through them. You can just file with the state for $15 like you do every year," Verhusen explained.

"I thought it was pretty sneaky for someone to, I guess, maybe, play on your doubts about what the real process was," Hughes said.

Some advice from postal inspectors: if you receive a suspicious mailing, always check with your state's attorney general or your local better business bureau to see if the mailing is legitimate.
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