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POSTAL INSPECTORS JOIN THE ACT IN ATTEMPT TO STOP THE SHOW

 WASHINGTON, June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced today that it was taking the fight against fraudulent postcards to the streets with an unusual twist to an old scam. In an extraordinary effort to educate potential victims about this perennial scourge, inspectors mailed more than 200,000 postcards to individuals all over the country, offering recipients a "GUARANTEED PRIZE."
 This familiar ruse promises that you have definitely won one of several seemingly big ticket prizes, such as a luxury automobile, vacation cruise, diamond necklace or cash. To claim your free prize, you simply call an 800 or 900 number furnished on the postcard. At this point, you're connected to a high pressure "yak" (sales agent) who spells out the real deal.
 Guess what? Before any prize is awarded, you'll have to pay the promoter a fee of some kind, be it a registration fee or shipping charge. This is the tip-off to the rip-off. The scheme is aimed at separating the prize winner from enough money to cover the worthless vacation certificate or cheap costume jewelry which may or may not be sent in return, plus a nice profit for the operator.
 Instead of the standard ruse, those who respond to the Postal Inspectors' postcard by calling 800-448-5656 will get some helpful advice:
 -- Don't pay anything for a "free prize" if you don't know what you're getting. (Remember, calling a 900 telephone number costs money.)
 -- Don't deal with firms or individuals that make high-pressure demands for an answer RIGHT NOW! (Take time to check them out.)
 -- Don't give out your credit card number to anyone you don't know. (Callers that want a credit card number or expiration date to verify anything about you aren't to be trusted.)
 Postal Inspectors are intent on preserving public confidence in the U.S. Mail as a means of accessing the marketplace and point out that the vast majority of mail order vendors are legitimate. "We want to drive the rotten apples out of the telemarketing barrel, with vigorous law enforcement and a strong dose of public education," said Inspector John Brugger, headquarters spokesperson for the Postal Inspection Service.
 -0- 6/4/93
 /NOTE: Copy of postcard and transcript of audio message available./
 /CONTACT: Karen Luehrs, Postal Inspector, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, 202-636-2349/


CO: U.S. Postal Inspection Service ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

TW -- DC008 -- 5357 06/04/93 10:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 4, 1993
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