March 2, 2021 | Tips, Tricks and Member Safety. Share this article:
National Consumer Protection Week (2/28-3/6) is a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money.
The US Postal Inspection Service is focusing this week on Money Mule activity. A money mule is a person who receives and transfers money obtained from victims of fraud. Some money mules know they’ve been recruited to assist in criminal activity, but others become money mules without realizing their activity is benefiting fraudsters.
Criminals usually use several methods in recruiting money mule victims:
- Work-from-home Scams: A job posting offers easy money for reshipping packages, buying gift cards or Postal Money Orders, or transferring money, which can be done at home.
- Confidence Scams: A person or business you don’t know offers you a cut/commission if you transfer money for them. Many of these scammers are active on social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram.
- Lottery Scams: A person informs you that you need to transfer or accept money in order to collect a prize/winnings.
- Romance Scams: A person you’ve met online or on an app who says they’re romantically interested in you asks you to transfer money and/or packages.
Ways to Protect Yourself:
- Don’t engage in financial transactions with strangers. This includes transferring money into and out of accounts you own or purchasing Postal Money Orders, gift cards, or virtual currency at the direction of others. Never give your personal information, such as your Social Security or bank account number to someone else.
- Don’t take a job that promises easy money and involves sending or receiving money or packages. While the allure of working from home can be tempting, remember the old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And, never accept or send packages on behalf of others.
- Check any work-from-home opportunity or money transferring offer with a trusted family member or friend. You can also contact your Better Business Bureau chapter or access your state’s corporation directory to help verify if the business is legitimate.
Report money mule activity/scams as soon as possible. Contact the Postal Inspection Service (uspis.gov/report; 877.876.2455). Also report any suspected Money Mule email or social media scams to the platform provider.