Consider this a phone scam, even though no one actually calls you.
While your typical phone scam begins with you receiving an unanticipated call on your landline or mobile phone, this scam begins with a postcard delivered to you through the US mail. In this scenario, you may not be receiving an unwanted call, but instead may be tricked into initiating an outbound call you may come to regret.
In a recent complaint filed with the FCC via our Consumer Complaint Center, a consumer described such an experience, which began by receiving a postcard marked "urgent, regarding a reward in my name."
The consumer went on to describe calling the toll-free number on the card and speaking to a woman who said she was sending a $100 voucher good for purchases at stores and restaurants in the consumer's area.
"They then asked for a 'handling fee,' to be paid by checking account or debit card, in order to send it," the consumer wrote. "I promptly refused, stating if it was a reward voucher, I shouldn't have to pay for it.
"Of course, since I refused to give any info, I don't get the voucher. Just thought you should be aware of this new scam."
Unlike a traditional phone scam, this one didn't start with an unwanted call. But the scammer's goal was to use the consumer's phone line to perpetrate a fraud, and we thank this savvy consumer for flagging the scam so we can share it with others to raise awareness.
The Federal Trade Commission warns "legitimate sweepstakes don't make you pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning — that includes paying 'taxes,' 'shipping and handling charges,' or 'processing fees' to get your prize. There's also no reason to give someone your checking account number or credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion."
If you think you've experienced this type of scam, you may report it to the FTC by calling 1-877-382-4357, or you can file a complaint online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
You can also file a complaint with the FCC regarding any type of phone scam, including this one. The FCC shares complaint information with the FTC and other agencies that investigate scams. For information about the FCC's consumer complaint process, visit the FCC's Consumer Complaint Center Q&A.