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Author Topic: Mail Fraud  (Read 3239 times)

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Joyce S

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Mail Fraud
« on: November 21, 2006, 01:42:36 PM »

Does anyone know whether it is illegal to take unwanted credit card offers and the like, stuff the entire mailing (including the envelope) into the postage-paid envelope with a note asking to be removed from the mailing list?

I was about to do just this with 14 unwanted offers that I had received in the past months when I noticed on the back of two of the postage-paid envelopes the following:
"It is a violation of federal law to steal or process stolen mail, and to defraud (or attempt to defraud) by mail a financial institution. 18 USC 1341 and 1708."

Those sections read:

§ 1341. Frauds and swindles
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

§ 1708. Theft or receipt of stolen mail matter generally
Whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains, or attempts so to obtain, from or out of any mail, post office, or station thereof, letter box, mail receptacle, or any mail route or other authorized depository for mail matter, or from a letter or mail carrier, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or abstracts or removes from any such letter, package, bag, or mail, any article or thing contained therein, or secretes, embezzles, or destroys any such letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein; or
Whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein which has been left for collection upon or adjacent to a collection box or other authorized depository of mail matter; or
Whoever buys, receives, or conceals, or unlawfully has in his possession, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein, which has been so stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted, as herein described, knowing the same to have been stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Unfortunately, way to much government-ese for me to interpret.

Is anyone fluent in government-ese?

Joyce S
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Dave Freas

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2006, 03:49:19 PM »

Hi, Joyce

I do that with every credit card offer I get.  I don't write them a note asking they not send me any more offers, I just stuff everything they sent me into the postage paid envelope and mail it back to them.  Soon or later it dawns on them that it's costing them money to mail me offers and they aren't making any money off me and they stop mailing me stuff.

Dave
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Elena

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2006, 10:05:21 PM »

Hi Joyce,

Returning unsolicited mail isn't any sort of a crime. I've even heard of people attaching pre-paid postage envelopes to bricks and mailing them back.  However, it is easier to register with the Direct Marketing Service to get your name removed from a zillion or so lists. 

https://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing

They are charging a dollar now, but it does work.  I'm also on their no sales call list, which unfortunately doesn't include non-profits.

Elena
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Brenda B.

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2006, 09:32:11 PM »

I shred unsolicited offers to prevent Identity theft. In the old days when I used the US Postal service to pay my bills, I would tears up all the extraneous ads and offers that came with the bill and sent them back with my payment. Never made a difference.

As far as getting off mailing lists, a lot of times the direct marketer has a different address than the one you use to respond to the offer, so you may be wasting your time requesting to be removed from the mailing list as well.
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Elena

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 10:02:44 PM »

If they have different addresses for you, send them all to the direct marketing people - even if they charge you a buck apiece it's worth the lighter load. 

I didn't even have to tell them when I moved to another state, the only junk sales mail I have received addressed to me personally after I moved came from local real estate offices.  Those stopped when I called the broker and stated my case with a great deal of firmness.

Elena
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Joyce S

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2006, 08:32:09 AM »

Well, I sent out 20 yesterday. I get way more junk mail since I moved to Georgia than I did in Vermont.

I think I have it out of my system now; and will resume shredding the stuff as I used to.

Joyce S
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Charles King

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2006, 11:33:14 AM »

On a semi-related topic: The credit cards I have routinely send me blank checks in the mail. I called to get them to stop this, and they said "no." What's that about? Since they are abetting potential fraud by putting my credit at risk, I guess it will be their fault if anything happens, though it probably will take awhile to get any misdeeds straightened out.

Charles  8)
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Joyce S

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2006, 11:41:48 AM »

On a semi-related topic: The credit cards I have routinely send me blank checks in the mail. I called to get them to stop this, and they said "no." What's that about? Since they are abetting potential fraud by putting my credit at risk, I guess it will be their fault if anything happens, though it probably will take awhile to get any misdeeds straightened out.

Charles  8)

Those I definitely shred. I did call one credit card company once and they did reluctantly stop sending them, but dutifully indicated that I would not receive any other "offers" from them. Like I really cared. You may want to try again and ask to speak with a supervisor.

You are right, though, if there was ever an inticement to fraud, using those checks would seems to be an easy route to take.

Joyce S.
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penny

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2006, 03:41:01 AM »

I'm unfamiliar with the laws regarding this, but why would it be OK for them to send you the unsolicited junk, and not OK for you to ram it back down their throats (where it belongs) using their own envelopes??

Like Dave, I agree you can skip the little note. They probably toss it out.

Penny
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Joyce S

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2006, 09:29:44 AM »

I'm unfamiliar with the laws regarding this, but why would it be OK for them to send you the unsolicited junk, and not OK for you to ram it back down their throats (where it belongs) using their own envelopes??

Like Dave, I agree you can skip the little note. They probably toss it out.

Penny


Quote
Posted by: Elena
Insert Quote
Hi Joyce,

Returning unsolicited mail isn't any sort of a crime. I've even heard of people attaching pre-paid postage envelopes to bricks and mailing them back.  However, it is easier to register with the Direct Marketing Service to get your name removed from a zillion or so lists. 

https://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing

They are charging a dollar now, but it does work.  I'm also on their no sales call list, which unfortunately doesn't include non-profits.

It's not an actual note: I use a bold marker and write "REMOVE FROM MAILING LIST" over the application part of the form, and scribble through the signature line(s). Will it help, probably not.

As to Elena's suggestion, I really have a problem having to pay even a dollar to stop unwanted mailings. I'm going to have check around, probably with the USPS and my congresspersons on this issue.

Joyce S

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Elena

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2006, 10:47:32 AM »

Hi Joyce,

Putting the Remove from mailing list - or if they have a toll free number calling them actually works.  However, it might not appear to work because they are constantly buying mailing lists, and it is very likely your name will once again show up.

I might mention that one of the ways companies are able to compile saleable mailing lists are from those people who fill out all sorts of demographic data about themselves that appear on many warranty registration cards.  They do not need information extraneous to your purchase, and you are not obliged to fill it out for legal registration.  In fact a company cannot refuse their warranty obligation even if you never register the product.  The only legitimate function of registration is to be able to get hold of you if there is a problem with the product.

Other things to do with unsolicited mail - the corners of envelopes make lovely book marks, just slide over the edge of the page.  Coloring them is soothing.  Somethings have blank sides - good for notes and shopping lists.  And colorful ones are lovely for collage material. 

Which just made me wonder about an amateur sleuth getting a clue about who sent the demand note made up of cut up words and letters because she recognized the various junk mailings it came from - such as a catalog for tall women's clothing - hmmmmmm  anyone who wants it, have fun :D

Good luck,
Elena
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Joyce S

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2006, 08:05:33 PM »

Hi Joyce,

...

Other things to do with unsolicited mail - the corners of envelopes make lovely book marks, just slide over the edge of the page.  Coloring them is soothing.  Somethings have blank sides - good for notes and shopping lists.  And colorful ones are lovely for collage material. 

...

Good luck,
Elena

My mother and sister save the security envelopes (designs on the inside face) to use for paper-folded greeting cards. It's amazing to actually notice all the different patterns and colors. And much, much more inexpensive than buying printed paper at the scrapbooking stores. Since the cards only use strips about 1/2 inch wide and typically under 3 inches long, the envelopes are a great source.

Joyce S
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Elena

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2006, 11:17:10 PM »

Quote
My mother and sister save the security envelopes

What a grand idea, and lovely diversion - I had to instantly start rummaging through my paper recycle stash.  I had never noticed all those lovely designs.  My mind flows to collaging and coloring them.  In the meantime I'm sitting on the floor collecting a new stash  :D

Thanks Joyce!
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Michele Viney

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Re: Mail Fraud
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2006, 04:33:57 AM »

Somethings have blank sides - good for notes and shopping lists.

I have always saved envelopes for my shopping lists. It soothes my conscience as my folks are environmentalists.

By the way if any of you have any questions on that topic feel free to ask and I can pass them on to the parents. Dad writes on the topic in The Irish Times and even has a book on the natural history of Ireland published by the Smithsonian (shameless plug).

Cheers
Michele
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Joyce S

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Re: Mail Fraud -- Recycling Envelopes
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2006, 07:24:44 PM »

I'm starting to consider saving the return envelopes (usually plain, window envelopes) to use for the few pieces of personal messages I snail-mail. I never use them to pay the bills since I use my bank's electronic bill pay -- saves me postage, something like $40 a year.

Back when I had access to lots of used envelopes (from a payment processing center), I would take them to my mother to sort through looking for stamps for her and her philatelist friends; she would then recycle the remaining paper into barn bedding on the family dairy farm. She would find a lot of basically unsealed envelopes within overnight packs. Those, she would pass on to my sister, who would use them as paycheck envelopes for the farm employees.

Joyce S
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